Trumpeter Mark Rapp has become one of Columbia's most effective jazz ambassadors, playing international dates with major artists such as Branford Marsalis and Wycliffe Gordon and appearing at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Newport Jazz Festival and the Blue Note in New York.
He's also committed to bringing more attention to the local jazz scene, and the recent ColaJazz compilation (with another volume coming soon) was a precursor to the live ColaJazz Artists Series which kicks off this Wednesday, Sept. 14, at the new Main Street Public House. The series of performances presented by Rapp will feature artists from the ColaJazz compilations every Wednesday, with bassist and bandleader Reggie Sullivan this week followed by Mike Frost on Sept. 21, Skipp Pearson on Sept. 28, J Michael Peeples on Oct. 5, and Nick Brewer on Oct. 11.
“I'm hoping to bring a greater awareness and interest in the amazing jazz talent we have in and around Columbia,” Rapp says. “In turn, I'm hoping to continue to grow Columbia into a culturally rich and vibrant city, as we ought to be.”
Rapp is convinced that jazz can work in this setting, and that the musicians will enjoy the experience as much as the audience.
“I want to show that it's good for business to have live jazz music in any configuration,” Rapp explains. “I hope the musicians enjoy having a special night once in a while, and that the public celebrates and has a blast with a hip weekly series that's going to offer new and interesting jazz artists in a cool environment.”
Rapp's inspiration for creating the ColaJazz compilations and now live music series came from an experience in Asheville, North Carolina, he says.
“There was a restaurant there sponsoring their weekly piano player's CD so they would have a nice product for guests at the restaurant and elsewhere, that could promote both the restaurant and the musician, a real win-win,” Rapp says. “I came back to Columbia wanting to do the compilation CD and showcase the talent we have here; I figure the more I can lift up my musical peers and excite the city with our creative endeavors, the better it will be for everyone. Main Street Public House came along and it has all the ingredients needed — great food, drinks, seating, stage, lighting and sound, so it was the perfect opportunity and the owners are jazz fans, so they're invested in making it happen, too.”
The weekly ColaJazz series runs from 8 to 11 p.m. each week and is free to attend. There is no drink minimum.