Advertisement

Album Review: John Rapson – Mystery and Manners


Questions of authenticity and the creative process have long been pressed on fans of modern music, especially electronic music. File sharing and digital manipulation change the collaborative process and force listeners to ask how important human playing, human authorship and human interaction are to creating what we call music. Is collaboration collaborative when it is written and performed without the musicians ever being together in the same space, or even the same country? Is a composition a composition if the composer does not actually write any of the music, but simply organizes it and fills in the gaps?

UI Jazz Professor and composer John Rapson has been suggesting these sorts of questions over much of his career. On Mystery and Manners, Brazilian musicians Vinicius Dorin and Realcino Lima (or Nene) compose–sometimes independently and sometimes as a trio with drummer Rafael dos Santos–free improvisations, which are then sent to Rapson to be transcribed, augmented by Rapson’s own playing, and re-arranged into the final compositions found on the release. The process is time consuming, perhaps infinite, as it retains a quality of being perpetually unfinished.

Rapson has worked this way in the past with such luminaries as Anthony Braxton and Billy Higgins and is sometimes associated with Ornette Coleman. But the music on Mystery and Manners is in many ways far more traditional than Coleman’s and experimenters of his ilk. The melodic structures are easy to grasp and the arrangements seem much more like songs than disaggregated tones or disembodied solos. Much of this is accomplished through the focus on detailed percussion, which his collaborative lineup emphasizes, and through a density and internal structure which would likely impress Hank Schoklee.

The sounds and improvisations are intricately layered and densely textured, flowing together seamlessly. This aspect of Mystery and Manners might remind us of Eric Dolphy in his best improvisational work and in fact many passages from Rapson’s album seem as though they could fit comfortably on Out to Lunch. But his technique is more rigorous. While Dolphy always seemed to catch himself at the outer limits of improvisation and return the song inwards, Rapson builds from the inside out, offering an internal structure that much of improvisational jazz lacks. The results for the listener are rewarding and, while the process may be contemporary, the sound will be somehow familiar.


Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV » editor@littlevillagemag.com

Advertisement

Advertisement

Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

Advertisement

New Year, New Career!

Free Help Desk & Systems Admin Education available to Iowans impacted by COVID.

Sign Up Today

Advertisement

Apply for a seat on the Human Rights Commission

Apply Today

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.

Regular

$10/mo or $120/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.

Italic

$20/mo or $240/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.

Bold

$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
LittleVillageMag.com connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.

Advertisement

Randy's Flooring is a local, employee-owned retailed that has been part of the Corridor for over 40 years, delivering quality and value through the largest selection of carpet, tile, hardwood, window treatments, and specialty products supported by the knowledgeable staff and in-house flooring designers who can help transform residential and commercial spaces.

 
Get Started