Mark Rapp – Token Tales – Token Tales – Paved Earth Music (no number), 54:32 ****1/2:
(Mark Rapp – trumpet, composer, arranger; Jamie Reynolds – piano, keyboards; Gavin Foster – acoustic and electric bass; Kyle Struve – drums)
It’s all pretty amazing, but Rapp’s maturity and authority shine brightest on the ballad numbers (“Thank You,” “Token Tales,”) which he plays not only with conviction, but with a depth, beauty, and stateliness that belie his young years. I also really like his muted intro and outro to “My Place,” a bit of modern romantica. The middle section, with its warm and declamatory heart-on-the-sleeve open trumpet and poignant piano solo, perfectly matches the youthful yearning of its subject matter.
His take on the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s bit of sixties psychedelic novelty, “Incense and Peppermints,” probably the most astounding number on the disc, shows not only a wild and crazy creative streak, but a sly sense of humor. The didgeridoo intro and drone background on “1st Minute, 1st Round,” a hard-driving down under world jazz cut, also make for very attractive listening. And the spritely waltz, “Sweet Serene,” with its casual virtuosity, strongly impresses.
Sophisticated without being slick or saccharine, contemporary but avoiding cliché, Token Tales is a remarkable debut. Mark Rapp is definitely someone to watch.
Who’s the Man?
Incense and Peppermints
1st Minute, 1st Round
It Should Be
– Jan P. Dennis