There are some artists that embody the exemplary attributes of jazz, others that push the genre forward, and others that interpret the sound of others and make their own stance in the genre.
Mark Rapp really isn’t content with any of these options. His seismic barrage of sounds toys with an improvisational style yet is knowingly practiced and seasoned in his sound. So he can deploy that improve spirit without losing sight of the classiness and professionalism of tightly knit song writing. It is a balance only the genre greats can achieve, like James Brown, Stevie Wonder, or Duke Ellington before him.
I am not comparing Mark Rapp, jazz experimenter, with the likes of the aforementioned legends directly. But there is a common sense of determination and genre-bending. He can fit snugly into multiple genres without ever solidifying himself as a member of any. His eclectic sound seems to supersede these genre barriers with splendid form.
So it comes as no surprise that Mark Rapp will be a selected headlining member of the acclaimed Garanhuns Jazz Festival in the Northeast of Brazil. The attendance is expected to be absolutely incredible, as jazz enthusiasts and genre music lovers will converge in this unifying world of the classy, experimental, and renowned.
The event will take place March 1- 4. In the meantime, Mark Rapp is busy dancing between genre idioms and seasoning his world-renowned musical palette. He co-leads the jazz collective The Song Project (TSP), who recently provided fans with a life-changing sold-out performance at the famous Blue Note jazz club in New York City with none other than jazz bass great James Genus. Genus also appears on the band’s double album opus on high-class audiophile label, Direct Grace. Proceeds will go to at-risk children charities. Though it is almost certainly not for added credibility, it is another slot in the back of the accomplished master worker placing humanity beyond the music and succeeding brilliantly with both.
Mark Rapp is directly involved with the jazz teaching platform, intotheShed. intotheShed.com aggregates the top performing and recording jazz artists out there today who schedule and offer live online video lesson times and creates an accessibility for students of jazz worldwide as never seen before. Imagine taking a lesson from your jazz idol in the comfort of your living room. It is a radiant way to explore the limits of the jazz genre, and fuel a medium and genre defined on its independent status and undercurrent of collaboration.
Mark Rapp has been a part of a number of projects through the years. 2010’s ‘Strayhorn Project’ is a highly riveting account of Rapp’s career to the date, and features accomplished musicianship from Don Braden, Gerald Clayton, Greg Gonzalez, and Rene Hart, among others.
Interestingly, the album features classic tunes from jazz compositional artist Billy Strayhorn. But in a way, it seems to embody the spirit of Mark Rapp and the adoration he and his cohorts have for the famed Duke Ellington socialite.
It is another example of a group of artists respecting what came before, and signaling that with an epic tour-de-force of the utmost professionalism and sonic beauty. Rapp’s follow-up album “Good Eats” expands upon this even more-so with its homage to alto-saxophonist’s Lou Donaldson.
This is what jazz is all about, and it is what makes the work of Mark Rapp so intoxicating, as well as, the efforts on full display in the web resource, intotheShed.com. Jazz has always been about bridging generations and taking what worked in the past and adding new elements to make it evolve in a healthy way. Jazz artists often celebrate the evolution and exploration of their respective genre.
Rapp steers meticulously around the genre’s outer perimeter to bring in anyone and anything he deems a worthy entry to the wide and eternal puzzle of jazz.
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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