One could argue that Mark Rapp follows the trails laid by such trumpeters as Miles Davis, Randy Brecker and Rick Braun. That all might be true, but Rapp is also establishing his own mark in jazz.
One of Down Beat magazine's top jazz trumpeters of 2007, Rapp mostly performs original music alongside his own arrangements of previously recorded material. Accompanying him on his debut album are Jamie Reynolds on piano and keyboards, Gavin Fallow on electric and acoustic bass, and Kyle Struve on drums. Rapp also plays the didgeridoo.
"Who's the Man?" sets the stage for things to follow. This groove features the entire ensemble, and although Rapp carries the lead, Fallow's funky bass line and Struve's hi-hat skills figure prominently. Reynolds enjoys a brief keyboard solo, but mostly, this song is about the music itself and not any individual player.
"Mr. Tricky" is a playful stroll with Rapp adding electronic effects to his trumpet so that at times, it sounds as if two horns are playing. The rhythm section is sharp, as it is throughout with at one point, Rapp engaging in dialogue with Reynolds, and during the keyboard solo, Struve showing off on the drum kit.
More musical movement comes through on "Cissy Strut." The bass and drums are more emphatic as Rapp leads, but more subtle during Reynolds' piano solo. The melody gives the sense of moving through the city, with occasional pauses to determine which path to take.
The band puts an interesting spin to the pop classic "Incense and Peppermints." It starts off slowly, with Rapp performing a solo introduction before the piece takes off. After a verse, the music softens while Rapp solos, ushering in one of the ensemble's more shining moments. The break sounds like a completely different song, with Rapp's trumpet wailing at times. Throughout, Reynolds, Fallow and Struve add even more punch, before the band settles back into the melody.
The didgeridoo is broken out for "1st Minute, 1st Round," an off-the-beaten path selection which perfectly complements the electronic sound of the trumpet. While the group does share in a lot of the album's excellence, this track is Rapp's highlight. It's a short, but effective piece.
Rapp bridges contemporary jazz and modern jazz, resulting in something that sounds a bit like funk. Either way, he lives up to his billing as one today's exciting young trumpeters.