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Take Five With Mark Rapp


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Meet Mark Rapp:

The Mark Rapp Group has played sold out shows at the Blue Note (New York), Joe's Pub, Le Poisson Rouge and such venues as the JVC Newport Jazz Festival, Dizzy's at Jazz Lincoln Center, Euphoria Festival and more.

Mark was named a "top emerging trumpeter" by Down Beat Magazine, featured on a Travel Channel documentary and has played with Branford Marsalis (see video at: Mark's website) to Hootie and the Blowfish, and most recently recorded with Don Braden and Gerald Clayton. His debut record, Token Tales is receiving critical acclaim and charted #20 on the Jazz Week Jazz Charts.


Trumpet, didgeridoo.

Teachers and/or influences? Dr. Ian Pearson (trumpet teacher), Ellis Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Björk, Radiohead, Dr. Dre, Jimmy Buffet, Louis Armstrong, Wayne Shorter, Prince, Sting, James Brown, Roy Hargrove, Bob Marley.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... my friend and fellow musician, Jason Ridenhour, introduced me to the sounds of John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong shortly after I graduated high school.

Your sound and approach to music: I am only concerned about memorable melodies and soulful grooves. Advanced theory and technical gallantry I'll employ only when it serves the vibe at hand.

Your teaching approach: Find and excel at producing the richest and most vibrant sound on your instrument. Enjoy playing music—without consistent joy, you won't make it through the lifetime of practicing which is required in order to be a successful musician.

Your dream band:

With whom I'd like to work: Branford Marsalis. Not only is he a brilliant musician, but he loves golf as much as I do. My dream band would consist of socially mature, self-secure, skilled, talented musicians who "bring it."

Road story: Your best or worst experience: The most challenging experience I had was playing modern jazz after the legendary Heath Brothers to an audience only interested in hearing more classic jazz. Wah-pedals, didgeridoo, and funk/rock grooves just didn't seem to go over too well.

Favorite venue:

JVC Newport Jazz Festival. The people, crew, sound, food, atmosphere were all brilliant!

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? Mark Rapp: Token Tales. Why? Look at what AllAboutJazz.com had to say.

"He plays with energy and it's refreshing... alive and vibrant."—The Rhythmic Pitch.

"This free wheeling set [Token Tales] is a solid ear opener that's full of fire and goes the distance."—Midwest Record.

"Token Tales by South Carolina native Mark Rapp presents a young trumpeter who sounds closer to Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan than his contemporaries. His attack is strong and favors a relatively pure tone. Rapp broadens his sonic arsenal with didgeridoo, which ushers in "1st Minute, 1st Round," and some electronic enhancement of his harmon-muted horn, on which he breaks out of the traditional Miles Davis model."—Down Beat Magazine.

"You should keep your own close watch and listen to what Rapp is doing." Walter Kolosky, jazz.com.

The first Jazz album I bought was: Miles Davis, Kind of Blue.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? Original music with memorable melodies performed by an outstanding band. It is my intention to present the music in my head and hopefully, in turn, contributing to a gratifying, enjoyable and valuable experience to the listener.

Did you know...

I'm thoroughly addicted to golf, BBQ and a great scotch.

CDs you are listening to now: Don Braden, Gentle Storm (HighNote Records);

Natalie Cole, Ask a Woman Who Knows (Verve);

Terence Blanchard, Flow, (Blue Note).

Desert Island picks: Branford Marsalis, Bloomington (Columbia Records);

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (Columbia Records);

Bob Marley, Exodus, Movement of the People (Island Records);

Björk, Homogenic (One Little Indian Records);

Radiohead, The Bends (Parlophone).

How would you describe the state of jazz today? Musically, jazz music is developing and growing by leaps and bounds. Many artists are presenting fantastic musical efforts and contributing greatly to the art of improvisation. It is however, past time for many of the radio stations and critics to support and celebrate this new diversity. In terms of business and practical (the electric bill needs to be paid) concerns, there's a dire need of attracting more and more people to the gigs.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? There's a myriad of ways to boost audience numbers—a key component to growing jazz. From attention to the finer details like clubs getting the lighting and sound right, waiting staff not wiping down tables on the last song, indicating "we want you out and fast," musicians taking on more promotional responsibilities, creative double billings; e.g. Branford plays with the Grateful Dead and Hootie and the Blowfish.

It provides the opportunity for jazz elements to be heard by massive audiences who gain positive associations of jazz and their favorite bands. Festivals should utilize online technologies and iPhone applications (look at what the Masters Golf Tournament did this year—live video streaming right on the iPhone for free!). These are just a few examples that will engage a broader demographic and support the jazz industry.

What is in the near future? Shows in California (Sonoma Jazz Festival and Yoshi's), Europe (Jazz Time International Festival Rijeka 2009, Croatia; Jazzland Club, Vienna), New York (opening for Maceo Parker) and more.

My debut release, Token Tales has been doing fantastically. It charted #20 on the Jazz Week Jazz Charts and the sales have been good. In this economy, they've been great!

I just recently recorded arrangements of Billy Strayhorn music with Don Braden, Gerald Clayton, Sachal Vasandani, Rene Hart and Greg Gonzales. It was a killer session and I'm telling you, you haven't heard such hip and unique arrangements of Strayhorn before. Look for this record to come out later in the year.

By Day:

Practice trumpet, practice golf, drink wine.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: PGA Tour Player.


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