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Adam Rapa: Life on the Road

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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In Italian, rapa translates, ever so blandly, as turnip. In the dialect of music and trumpeting, Rapa probably translates as supernova. Reminiscent of the Hubble Telescope's display of spectacular images of galaxies far away, their beauty exploding in viewer's eyes and hearts, Adam Rapa's Life on the Road is a prismatic and almost spectacular CD.

On this, his first solo CD, Rapa, a Jack Sparrow-like swashbuckler of sounds, screams with virtuosity, displaying a wide range of technical yet beautiful playing. His approach creatively betrays the personality of a dynamic, high energy, yet puckish, virtuoso. Along with other younger superstar trumpet performers such as Tom Hilliker, Dominick Farinacci, and Etienne Charles, Rapa and his group seem to seek envelopes to push and technical barriers to break with their electrifying performances.

Life on Rapa's road spills out with fire, spirit and energy. The solo and ensemble playing is tight and swinging ("Calypso," and the Maynard Ferguson-like "Goldmine"). These ten selections, including five Rapa compositions, provide more a than adequate playing field for the trumpeter to display his range, technique and jazz improv chops. His incorporation of electronic support—wah-wah and other effects ("A Freaky Night in Tunisia")—is sly, smartly utilized, and does not detract from the music. There's funky-butt, trumpet-speak and humor here, too ("Poopy Pants Blues"). Overall, Rapa soars with good support from his cohorts. Pianist Jordan Orvosh, especially, shines on a very nice send up of "Ode to Joy."

As excellent as the music is, there's not much straight-ahead solo jazz. A moment of fantasy might deliver Rapa dazzling on "Giant Steps" or displaying his beautiful golden tone, remembering Clifford Brown on "I Can Dream, Can't I?" But he does give a nod to Miles Davis with "Blue in Green."

The recording and overall production values are fine and well-balanced, given Rapa's power playing. Like the musical extravaganza in which he first gained notoriety, Life on the Road is, overall, a blast.


Track Listing: Calypso; A Freaky Night in Tunisia; Blue in Green; Babudilewbap; Ode to Joy; Dissent; 50 Pumps; Poopy Pants Blues; Goldmine; Song for Jozak.

Personnel: Adam Rapa: trumpet, flugelhorn; Mike Tucker: tenor saxophone; Jeff bush, Danny Kirkum: tenor trombone; Max Seigle: tenor trombone; Jordan Orvosh: piano, keyboards; Nate Edgar: bass guitar; Joey Oakley: drums; Equis Castrillo: congas, timbales.

Title: Life on the Road | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Self Produced


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