Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Rapson, John, trombonist, composer; b. Gary, IN, 4 February 1953. He's the son of Ira Rapson (deceased June 1993) and Wilma Sue Griffith and the oldest of four children, was born on February 4, 1953 in Gary, Indiana. His family lived in various cities in the midwest until 1964, when they moved to Santa Barbara, California. Rapson married Elizabeth Swanson in 1978 and they had three children (Sam, Hannah, Clara) together, born over the period of 1981 to 1984. He was a resident of Southern California until 1990, when he moved the family east for three years and then settled in Iowa City, Iowa where he currently resides.
He had private study with composer Barney Childs (5/82-5/83), composer Nobuya Matsuda (9/87-5-88) and composer Henry Brant (6/88-8/90). He got a B.A. Music from Westmont College (5/76). He got an M.A.in Composition from California State University, Northridge (5/81). He took the Connecticut Alternate Route to Cerification (8/91). He earned 35 graduate hours at Wesleyan Univserity (5/91-93). He has taught at Westmont College (8/80-5/90), Greater Hartford Academy for Performing Arts (9/92-5/93), and Wesleyan University (9/91-5/93). He has been an associate professor of music at the University of Iowa since 1993, where he has collaborated on projects with Billy Higgins, Anthony Braxton, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Matt Wilson, Mike Lee, Charlie Kohlhase, The Either/Orchestra, David Berkman and Bobby Watson. Rapson is a composer, trombonist and recording artist for Music and Arts, Sound Aspects and Nine Winds whose work mixes ethnic and experimental elements with more conventional jazz forms. Rapson has written over 125 jazz compositions and recorded 19 albums, nine of which are under his own leadership and feature his compositions. In 2002, he won first prize in the 2002 Julius Hemphill Competition sponsored by the Jazz Composers Alliance for Riff Bass Bridge Head, from the album Daydreams from the Prairie. In 1995, Mr. Rapson was commissioned by AT&T to compose Sound Luminesce, a jazz suite that united musicians in Iowa and Japan via fibre optic technology in the first ever inter-continental "live" performance. His concerts and recordings on the west coast include sessions with John Carter, Vinny Golia, Kim Richmond, Bruce Fowler, Clay Jenkins and Alex Cline. His collaborations while in the east included performances or recordings with Julius Hemphill, David Murray, Bill Frisell, Tim Berne, Doc Cheatham, Ed Blackwell, Jay Hoggard, Walter Thompson and Allen Lowe.
Deeba dah bwee (1986); Bu Wah (1986); Bing (1990); Dancers and Orations (with Anthony Braxton and Bobby Bradford) (1996); Daydreams from the Prairie (2001); Water and Blood: The Billy Higgins Improvisations (with Billy Higgins) (2001); Mafficked Simulacrum (2003)
Tim Berne: 7X (1980); Walter Thompson: Stardate (1980); Vinny Golia Quintet: The Gift of Fury (1982); Golia, John Carter, Tim Berne: Compositions for Large Ensemble (1984); Headless Household: Headless Household (1987); Vinny Golia Large Ensemble: Facts of Their Own Lives (1988), Pilgrimage to Obscurity (1989); Julius Hemphill: New Tango '92: After Astor Piazzolla (1991); Anthony Braxton: Four (Ensemble) Compositions (1992); David Murray, Doc Cheatham: Mental Johnson County Landmark: Been There, Done That (1997); Standards and Love Songs from the Plow and Angel: Iowa City, Iowa (1997); Johnson County Landmark: A Mingus Among Us (1997); Oddbar Trio: Lost Art Cafe (1999); Johnson County Landmark: JCL Plays the Music of Steve Swallow (2002);
Frank-John Hadley, "Water and Blood" Downbeat, January 2003, pp. 77-78
Josef Woodard, "Water and Blood" The Independent, September 2002
Mark Corroto, "Water and Blood" All About Jazz.com, September 2002
David Dupont, "Water and Blood" All Music Guide.com, August, 2002
Michael Rosenstein, "John Rapson, Water and Blood" Cadence, July 2002,
Jim Musser, "Diverse New Discs from Multi-faceted Rapson" Press Citizen
Russell Arthur Roberts, "Lost Art Cafe" L.A. Jazz Scene, February, 2000
Barry Kernfield, ed., "John Rapson" The Grove Jazz Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd edition)
Russell Arthur Roberts, "Lost Art Cafe" Jazz Weekly.com, December 4, 2000
Graham Lock, "Dances and Orations" The Gramophone Guide to Jazz
Tom Lord, "John Rapson"The Jazz Discography Volume 18. 1998
Richard Cook and Brian Morton, "Bing"The Penguin Guide to Jazz
Collier, Graham, "On Authenticity: Dances and Orations" Jazz Changes, 1997
Woodard, Josef, "Dances and Orations"Jazz Times, September 1997, p87.
Richmond, Kim, "Dances and OrationsJazz Player, August 1997, pp38-9.
Silsbee, Kirk, "Dances and Orations"Jazziz, June 1997, p67.
Lippegaus, Karl, "Dances and Orations" Music Check, February 1997, p23.
Hazell, Ed, "Dances and Orations"The Boston Phoenix, March 7, 1997, p3
Kuner, David, "Dances and Orations"Cadence, January 1997, p33.
Niklas Wilson, Peter, "Dances and Orations"Jazz Podium, November 1996,
Woodard, Josef, "Fringe Beat: Tromboneliness, "The Independent,June 27 1996
Baugher, Carl, " Compositions: 1992,"Cadence, December 1993 p91.
Campbell, Robert, "Mental Strain at Dawn, Cadence, June 1993 p86.
Morgenstern, Dan, "John Rapson," All-Music Guide, p397. 1992
Davis, Francis, "Consumer Guide,"Village Voice, March 24, 1992 p92.
Rosenstein, Michael, "New Tango '92," Cadence, August 1992, p101
Iannapollo, Robert, "John Rapson: Bing," Cadence, October 1991, p83.
Davis, Francis, "Consumer Guide," Village Voice, May 21, 1991 p82.
Honors and Awards:
First prize - Riff Bass Bridge Head, 2002 Julius Hemphill Composition Contest
Top Ten Best Jazz Albums of 1999 - Lost Art Cafe, Jazz Weekly.com
Citation - John Rapson, Grove Dictionary of Jazz Musicians and Music (Second Edition)
Citation - Dances and Orations, The Gramophone Guide to Good Jazz Cds (Second Edition)
Artistic Director - Light Bridge: Midwest U.S./Japan Conference, AT&T/Iowa Department of Economic Development
Director, 1994 All-Metro Jazz Band, Community Jazz Organization, Des Moines IA
Year's Best Recordings, 1993 - Mental Strain at Dawn, Consumer Guide, Village Voice
Year's Best Recordings, 1991 - Bing, First Place - Legacy of Lyons
1989 Annual Composition Contest, Music Guild of America
Honorary Performance, 1986 - FORM XII, 50th anniversary, Society of Composers, Inc.
2002 Obermann Interdisciplinary Grant (co-authored with Dr. Jerry Suls) $6000 Summer Grant for joint research;CD subvention: $3000 for Mafficked Simulacrum
2001 Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorships $8000 Matching Grant: Carla Bley and Steve Swallow
2000 Arts and Humanities Initiative grant $5000 for Water and Blood compositions
1998 Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorships $5000 Matching Grant: Rova Saxophone Quartet; Arts and Humanities Initiative grant $5000 for Daydreams from the Prairie compositions
1996 Arts Midwest: Meet the Composer: Vinny Golia Performances and workshops, November 10-17
1995 Iowa State Department of Economic Development with AT&T $10,000 Commissioning Project Midwest U.S./Japan Conference, Cedar Rapids; Arts Midwest: Satellite Touring Fund $5000 Sponsorship of The Harold Maebern Trio
1994 Old Gold Summer Fellowship/University of Iowa $5000 for Dances and Orations composition and CD project
1993 Connecticut Commission on the Arts $5625 matching grant: Summer Arts for Youth
1991 National Endowmant for the Arts (co-authored with Henry Brant) $10,000 co-sponsorship: Five Hundred: The Lost Hemishere Lincoln Center, New York, October
715 N. Johnson Street
Iowa City, IA 52245