Mark Rapp’s debut album Token Tales shows many different facets of this trumpeter’s pioneering ways as he crafts a smooth jazz relaxer in “Thank You,” jumps into a funky rapport with his band in “Who’s The Man?” and articulates creamy soul-jazz lifts along “Mr. Tricky.” These are just some of Rapp’s skills at the top of his spreadsheet. He never runs out of ideas about where to take his compositions, whether he is being experimental and engages in some free-style acrobatics like along “Cissy Strut,” or sticks to a traditional jazz keister and classic soaring riffs like in the title track.
The harmonic lay-out leads into clean passageways clear of congestion, though artistically maneuvered with crisscrossing beams like in “Incense And Peppermints.” Rapp additionally plays the didgeridoo in “1st Minute, 1st Round” which creates psychedelic waves moving in the undercurrent of the piece as Rapp’s trumpet quavers feverishly along the top register. The trumpet turns into a sensual kneading in “My Place,” and classic soft swing-jazz steps in “It Should Be.” The soul-jazz grooves of “What Was” are wheedled into lush escapes, and the dainty piano strands and whipping trumpet sashays of “Sweet Serene” are spun into a vibrant ballroom dance.
Mark Rapp seems to derive great pleasure in doing his own thing, which he excels at in Token Tales. Joining him on the recording are Jamie Reynolds on piano, Gavin Fallow in bass, and Kyle Struve on drums. There is definitely a sense that Rapp takes the lead in these tracks, and that the only boundaries he seems to have are those set by his own mind. He shows a tendency to investigate those areas which are unfamiliar to him, and wheedles them into his repertoire. He has his own way of defining jazz, which keeps its standard principles of being soothing and melodically keyed while delving into the experimental side of this genre that gives it the ability to branch out further, and Rapp is constantly inclined to take his music further.
– Susan Frances, JazzTimes.com