New Music | Rosemarine

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Last year we had the great pleasure of hosting Logan Richardson for a live session here at the Ropeadope Room. If you’ve heard Logan’s album Blues People, it is impossible to avoid the haunting guitar style of Igor Osypov. And now, we present ROSEMARINE, a trio formed by Danish singer Mia Knop Jacobsen, Igor, and drummer Philip Dornbusch. The sound is unique and hard to define, it’s big and powerful one moment and sublime and delicate the next. You can feel the interplay between the musicians as they reach for a space that they call their own. Expressions of love, loss, anger and determination come through on their self titled debut album, due out on May 10th. Pre-orders (and a taste) hit on April 5.

The 21Soul Sessions | Philly

This month we pair up with our friends Matthew Stewart and Heru Shabaka-Ra from Bop Life, and man they have a special roster cooked up for you. Yolanda Wisher kicks it off, followed by the one and only HPrizm, with a cast of musical explorers - V. Shayne Frederick, Dan Kaplowitz, Ehud Guy, Matt Engle, Julius Masri, Mike Watson, & Aaron Goode. Our community meets the Bop Life community; that’s what it’s all about!

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The Last Poets

This Wind You Hear Is The Birth Of Memory. When The Moment Hatches In Time’s Womb, There Will Be No Art Talk. The Only Poem You Will Hear Will Be The Spear Point Pivoted Into The Punctured Marrow Of The Villain, And The Timeless Native Son Dancing Like Crazy To Retrieved Rhythms Of Desire Faded Into Memory. Therefore, We Are The Last Poets Of The World. (Keropatse Kgositsile)

One cannot overstate the sense of honor and responsibility that we are feeling at Ropeadope at this moment in history. It is a powerful moment and the natural sum of all of the work we have put in over 20 years. And it all seemed to happen with ease; Jim Stephens mentions the label to Jamaaladeen Tacuma, we meet The Last Poets, and everything is in perfect alignment. We are excited to present to you Transcending Toxic Times by The Last Poets, with the flawless groove and reverent production of Jamaaladeen Tacuma. There is no better expression of our intent, both musically and culturally, than this record.

On a winter day just outside Philadelphia The Last Poets and Jamaaladeen Tacuma gathered at the Ropeadope Room for an interview in anticipation of their new release, Transcending Toxic Times. The mood was light, a casual gathering over soul food with the label, the producer, and the poets themselves. We cued up the album, brought the sound up and walked through the final recording. It was the first time all three had heard the finished album, and the interview was soon put on hold as four men sat, transfixed and intent, leaning on every note and word as they walked through their memories and even their purpose. Dare we say tears were shed, and as we spoke with cameras rolling it soon came out that THIS was the definitive Last Poets album.

50 years ago Abiodun Oyewole was in the middle of it: vocally challenging both the oppressors and the oppressed. Looking for truth to be spoken at any cost, mourning the loss of Malcolm and Martin among many others named and unnamed in THE struggle of the time. A struggle that is more relevant today than it ever was as African Americans continue to press the nation for truth and equality. Dun met Umar Bin Hassan at a Black Arts event in Ohio, and Umar made the trip to New York to join the group. Baba Donn Babatunde showed up later, adding percussion to the poetry.

The history is strong, much has been written and is easily found. But the spirit of these men in their common creative interaction is the real story. 50 years of perseverance, of bearing witness to the most atrocious of crimes, 50 years of personal challenges and yet still and adherence to the higher principles of love, or respect, and of kindness to your fellow human.

Enter Jamaaladeen Tacuma. It takes someone who understand the essence of The Last Poets better than the poets themselves. A man who knows the history from the inside, but has a foot in the music world as well. Tacuma’s bass playing is refined, yet just as swinging as if it were not. But it is his role as producer here that elevates this album above all others. A knowledge of what people want to hear, an understanding of what the message is and how it MUST be delivered, and the skill and friends to blend the two. This is not poetry set to music, nor is it music made for poets. This is a seamless transfiguration of the groove, the words, and the essential human elements that live between the notes and the words.

Transcending Toxic Times is a broad work of human emotion: Anger, scorn, frustration, challenge, beauty, sorrow, love, and joy are all present. The spoken word is rhythmic, melodic at times. The baselines and the groove are irresistible, and the message is unavoidable.

On that day we witnessed the realization of four great artists: that their individual and collective contributions had transcended each of them and ALL of them. That they were in the presence of something definitive and transcendent.

Kramos & The Cooks

Check out these cats in NYC! We met them when they asked us to host a show for Brooklyn Radio, and now we’re teaming up for a Ropeadope retrospective series as we head down the last lap of our 20th year in this crazy game called the music biz. Twelve episodes of deep dive into the catalog have us digging into the archives and connecting the dots. Start below at Episode 1 for some major milestones in the history; and then jump into that Ropeadope groove right here. Next month we’ll take a solid look at the roots music that happened to show up on a Jazz (notjazz) record label.

The 21Soul Sessions | Brooklyn

You can’t have a worldwide celebration of music without including Brooklyn, and we are ready. On April 23 we kick off our monthly residency at The Brooklyn Bowl. Dubbed The 21Soul Sessions | Soul At The Bowl, the inaugural show will be a banger. Paul Beaubrun, Vivian Sessoms, and Emanuel Casablanca will mix it up in a night of soulful reflection and celebration of diversity.

The 21Soul Sessions are unique musical experiences; established, world class players and young guns mix it up with a broad range of styles intended to break down the social construct of genre as a divisive term. Musicians today have become world travelers and ambassadors who not only bring new music to new places, but bring their worldly experiences back home to their community. 

The Place To Be. Get Loose. Get Free.

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New Music | Bluke

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Back in the early days of Ropeadope there was Bullfrog, with Blurum13 and Kid Koala mixing it up. To say the album was ahead of its time, well ya know. As we dig into the archives to celebrate our 20th we find those tracks fit perfectly right alongside releases from 2019. And now we are stoked to say that Blurum13 is back, and he’s brought his friend - the great and always mysterious Luke Vibert - with him. Together they are the defenders of righteous old school Hip-Hop, and the new album from BLUKE is set for May 24th, but we’ve got a little taste headed your way at the end of this month. Stay tuned here or drop in on Blu right over here.

New Music | Uncle Nef

Drummer Shannon Powell stands tall in the lineage of New Orleans’ rhythmic giants; he is a torchbearer of the city’s culture and one of the finest drummers in the world. He’s also a great singer, his vocals invoking styles that echo the churches, street parades and jazz clubs of his hometown. Known for his contributions to traditional and modern jazz idioms, having worked with Danny Barker, Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis, Powell is also a veteran of New Orleans' rich rhythm and blues scene having backed up such greats as Snooks Eaglin, Earl King and Dr. John.

Darren Hoffman is a multi-instrumentalist and music producer originally from Miami, Florida. He grew up playing guitar in his youth, greatly influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Albert King and Nirvana, but switched to drums when he was bit by the jazz bug in his early twenties and relocated in 2007 to study percussion at the University of New Orleans.

Hoffman began hanging out with Powell at places like Donna’s Bar & Grill on Rampart Street; the pair hit it off and began a friendship that ventured far from the classroom. While Shannon guided Darren in music and street-smart professionalism, Hoffman introduced Powell to new technologies and 21st century music industry practices. While many students of music today study almost entirely in the world of academia, Darren had the unique experience of being mentored by a living legend in a more traditional way, doing odd jobs and handling business for Shannon in exchange for knowledge and musical guidance.

When Darren enrolled at UNO, he had all but forgotten the guitar, focusing on his career as a professional drummer. One afternoon in 2009, Darren pulled out his guitar and jammed through some blues tunes with Shannon. Taken aback by what he heard, Shannon proclaimed, “Man! We gotta record!” This chance riff resulted in the 2017 release simply entitled Blues, a stripped down interpretation of raw blues with a modern edge. The success of that record led to a natural progression toward their new collaboration, Love Songs.

Here we find Powell and Hoffman stretching out, but not relaxing at all. The mood is highly charged and powerful, with Powell hitting hard and Hoffman shredding like a chainsaw on razor wire. There are some subtle love songs on Love Songs, but many tracks that speak to the full experience of love - the energy, the tension, the elation and the agony.

Love Songs is a concept album telling the story of the interpersonal relationship: starting with the end of one love, the discovery of a new- and the inevitable passing once again. Classic tracks are included to keep the concept in context - from Louis Jordan’s “Caledonia” and Nirvana’s “tourette’s,” to Fats Domino’s “Sick and Tired” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Jam 292.” It’s a wonder to see this unlikely Uncle/Nephew duo chart new territory with full appreciation of the past.

New Music | Doobie Powell

Born and raised in Hartford Connecticut, H. Doobie Powell was brought up in the Gospel circuit with a variety of influences from family and community. His father, Hubert Powell Sr., traveled with the legendary Richard Groove Holmes and formed the band Wood, Brass, and Steel featuring a young Doug Wimbish. This is the band that ultimately became The Sugar Hill Gang in the early years of Hip-Hop. In 1979 Hubert Sr. returned to his Gospel roots and infused what he had learned on the road into Gospel. His mother was a vocalist, and both are pastors, so music and church are inseparable in Doobie’s foundation, as is the desire to fuse genres and experiment.

As Doobie grew up, playing drums on the road with his father as early as 9 years old, he continued his restless search to express the music in his heart. In school his ‘peers’ were listening to the popular music of the day, with the usual level of social segregation in place. Doobie was the unique young one, listening to Steely Dan and a variety of Gospel, Jazz, and Funk. As he traveled with Church groups he met some key cats from other places, and he found his way to work with top level artists like Kim Burrell, Harry Connick Jr, Musiq Soulchild, Robert Glasper, and many more. His friendship with Robert Sput Searight led to his new full length album, Finding Myself Again, set for release on March 8th, 2018, with the lead single Just Do It leading the way on January 25th.

The message is clear; whatever you have been through, whatever challenges you might face, you have but one choice: to find beauty and move forward. In Doobie’s case he took a hard look at his situation and accepted the reality, choosing to find that beauty, press on, and bring words and music of joy and positivity to the world.

‘My approach is to encourage people; there is still a reason for your life and there is still possibility’ (Doobie Powell)

New Music | RC & The Gritz

RC Williams has traveled the world with an impressive list of musicians, from Erykah Badu to Snoop, from Roy Hargrove to Mos Def. For 13 years he has held down the DFW Jam Sessions in Dallas; a spot that has nurtured many artists and become an incubator for new styles and cross collaborations. It was at these jam sessions that Snarky Puppy bonded with the likes of Sput Searight, Bobby Sparks, and Shaun Martin - and that is just one example. RC Williams was born and raised in Dallas, trained at the renowned magnet school Booker T Washington High, and brought up in a broad community of dedicated and caring musicians.  A member of the the Grammy winning gospel group God’s Property, RC Williams carries the ethic of ‘each one teach one’ forward in a powerful way.

RC & The Gritz can often be seen backing Erykah Badu, so the groove is familiar to many. Their 2015 release, The Feel, was met with eager ears by press and fans alike. While some of his peers express their chops in a big way, RC expresses a certain feel, a vibe of comfort and direct accessibility. This is music to groove to, and it confers a sense of cool on all who can hear.

Apple Music

If Apple Music is your jawn, a quick search for Ropeadope will reveal playlists curated by our fake CEO, Louis Marks (aka diglp). Aside from rambling musical side trips down the back roads, you can stay up to date with new Ropeadope releases on the twenty Nineteen playlist. Follow us as we follow the music….

Here & Now

Diggin the Spotify scene? Drop in here and now to stay on top of new releases from Ropeadope. The Here & Now playlist rotates each week with new tracks from upcoming releases. It’s a great snapshot of what Ropeadope has to offer, in playlist form.

New Music | Andrea Molinari

Our good friend Logan Richardson hipped us to Andrea Molinari, an Italian Jazz guitarist with a unique perspective. Andrea studied at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory and the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, yet it was his trip to New York that rounded out his arrival on the Jazz scene. In 2010, he won the “Jimmy Woode" best guitarist award, with an esteemed panel of judges including Kurt Rosenwinkel, Rick Margitza, Antonio Sanchez, Eddie Gomez, Dado Moroni and Gegè Telesforo. Andrea’s new album, 51, is set for release worldwide on April 12th, with pre-order starting this Friday. His tone and style evoke memories of the days when Rock and Jazz were best friends; one can hear the story being told with feeling.

51 was recorded in Rome and features Enrico Zanisi on piano, rhodes & synth, Matteo Bortone on bass & backing vocals, Enrico Morello on drums, Camilla Battaglia on vocals, Alessandro Presti on trumpet, and Clementina Regina on soprano.

New Music | Gorgeous!

Hailing from Miami, multi-instrumentalist Darren Hoffman grew up as a blues, rock and punk guitar player. While studying film in Florida he met jazz piano master, Marcus Roberts, and soon plans changed as he went off to New Orleans to study jazz percussion. Yet his love of the blues, as revisited by Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana and The White Stripes persisted.

Morgan Guerin, the son of World-renowned bassist Roland Guerin, is that child prodigy who brings music forth from the source in any way he chooses. Growing up in the New Orleans area, his unique access and talent led him to sit in with Ellis Marsalis and The Astral Project as early as four years of age. He met Darren Hoffman when he was just six, sharing his drum skills with his elder.

Parker McAllister grew up studying classical piano on his mother’s insistence, also starting as a toddler, attending Manhattan School of Music while still in high school. As he fell in love with the bass, he kept his deal with his mother as long as he could, which meant he could play the bass as long as he continued to study piano. The only electric bass player admitted to the New England Conservatory of Music, Parker found opportunities right away, and soon was performing as a bassist with the renowned all female gospel a cappella group Sweet Honey In The Rock.

Darren Hoffman’s search for expression through sound is the driving force behind gorgeous!. That sound is raw, with a constant rock and blues edge on the guitar as the players bring all of their jazz inspired experimentation to create a landscape effect. The trio format demands honesty and muscle, as there is no extravagant arrangement to hide behind.

gorgeous! sounds like a post-punk jazz trio infused with the spirits of Albert King and Kurt Cobain. The album is titled “imperfection,” a nod to the true spirit of searching for the root of the human condition. Deep blues grooves give way to elements of laid back back-room swing, setting a mood that we all can feel. “imperfection” is a refreshing and courageous form of connection between historic sound and in the moment creativity.

New Music | Mark de Clive-Lowe

Day turns to night as Mark de Clive-Lowe’s Heritage II takes us from the meditative zen of Heritage into a world of jazz and Japanese roots culture fused with hip hop, drum’n’bass and broken-beat.

‘Heritage is a legacy we receive from our ancestors to pass on to future generations. It’s the thread that holds us together in lineage and cultural identity,’ posits jazz and electronic music pioneer Mark de Clive-Lowe. The half-Japanese half-New Zealander presents his new album Heritage II - the partner and second installment to his critically acclaimed album Heritage, a deeply personal exploration of his Japanese cultural and ancestral roots.  

“Heritage is what gives our relatively short lives context and meaning in the bigger picture of generations past and future. We are the new ancestors, and with that in mind, it’s important that we act - and contribute - accordingly. This is my identity search and journey to better understand where I’ve come from, what ancestry means to me and where I’m going to. ”

On Heritage II, de Clive-Lowe is joined by a cast of world-class musicians: Josh Johnson, Teodross Avery, Brandon Eugene Owens, Brandon Combs, Carlos Niño, and Tylana Enomoto - who all contribute stellar performances in support of de Clive-Lowe’s music.

These are not only my favorite musicians, but my friends, and that they were all able to be part of this project really means a lot to me. They’re all such incredible musicians, and no one brings any ego to the table - that’s one key thing that makes it possible to explore this music with a real sense of vulnerability and honesty.’

Heritage II is the partner album to Heritage. The album’s original artwork by Tokio Aoyama depicts Bon Odori - a summer festival dance under the night-time sky - surreally all happening inside de Clive-Lowe’s grand piano. Heritage II is available for preorder tomorrow, Friday March 1.

New Music | BT ALC Big Band

Since the their formation in 2011, the BT ALC Big Band, led by trombonist Brian Thomas and trumpeter Alex Lee-Clark, has gained a reputation for hard grooving original compositions featuring the most talented jazz and funk musicians in Boston. The BT ALC Big Band draws from the big band traditions of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Thad Jones and infuses music from funk legends like James Brown, Parliament Funkadelic, and The Meters, creating an undeniably unique sound, Big Band Funk.

We’ve seen Brian in the mix with Ropeadope alum Otis Grove and Akashic Record, and now we are stoked to welcome the BT ALC Big Band with their new release The Search For Peace, due out here on May 17th. Stay tuned for some selections coming out as singles so y’all can get a little taste of Big Band Funk.

New Music | Nathan De'Shon Myers

Quite well known as a baritone in Germany, performing with the Deutsche Oper Berlin with roles in La Boheme and Turandot, among others. His presence, whether performing or in casual conversation, intimate a powerful soul with calm and compassion in a chaotic world. Nathan De’Shon Myers has something to reveal to us all. Part of the flourishing Dallas music community, Myers spent time as faculty at the venerable Booker T. Washington school, and now is taking the time to focus on his music. His debut album will be arriving this year from RSVP Records, and while we anxiously await the full offering, we are graced with the first single. I Wish You Would is a reflection on life today, with a steady and soothing groove, and a call to action for all of us to rise to the challenges. To unite rather than divide, to transcend. Friday February 23 is the date, tune in here for first listen.

New Music | Thor De Force

Thor Madsen was born in Chicago; his parents had arrived at a hot moment (1968) and the fully took up the spirit of the time. Before they headed back to their native Denmark, where Thor would be raised, they picked up a great vinyl collection; Santana to Deep Purple, Hendrix, Dylan, Sly and Procol Harum among the titles. Growing up Thor followed in his brother’s footsteps and learned guitar, heading across the street to the local arts and community center where he had full access to rehearsal rooms, instruments, and amps. One day his brother handed him a copy of We Want Miles, and everything changed. He was hooked, and began the process of understanding Jazz through reverse engineering.

Thor went on to what is known as a rhythmic conservatory in his home town, catching a wide variety of shows at night and digging into new music. He put together an acid Jazz band, influenced by the likes of Guru, Us3, and Digable Planets and soon received offers to perform. Thor pulled together as much as he could while in his small town, but he had it in his head to get to New York for even broader horizons. Soon he was on the scene, mixing and performing with cats at Izzy Bar and later Nublu. He was part of the Hip-Hop collective The Real Live with Dionysus, Stimulus, Eric Revis, James Hurt, and Dana Murray. As Nublu became a hub his focus shifted to the space between Jazz and Electronica, as he toured with The Nublu Orchestra, Wax Poetic, and Our Theory. Somewhere in this whirlwind he picked up his new moniker, Thor De Force, as personally described by writer John Farris.

The story tells itself: a man who let music into his soul and found it was already there. A curious mind with a persistent desire to experiment. There is a solid beginning but no end, as Madsen also works with Jazz Explorer Trio and RagaJazz with violin virtuoso Kala Ramnath. And so the new album - Sounds Of The Mansion - is a document of a journey. Working from his studio Mazza Mansion, with an arsenal of equipment within reach, Thor began each song with one seed, cultivating the sound and bringing in new ideas as they blossomed. The result is a comprehensive glimpse into the creative mind of Thor De Force.

“The album is my attempt to really do my own music, my own style, my own story. There is a little of everything I like in it. I have tried to create an open kind of music where all the things that inspire me can coexist and feed off each other, in a possibly vain attempt to reconcile everything I love”.

Mark de Clive Lowe | Heritage

Heritage is the idea of transmitting from the past to the future - knowing more about who we are and where we’re going by understanding where we come from. It’s about identity and one’s place in the world,” muses pianist and electronics wizard Mark de Clive-Lowe. For the half-Japanese half-New Zealander who calls Los Angeles home, his latest musical offering, Heritage, is a deeply personal exploration of his ancestry and cultural roots.

“I was raised bi-culturally and as time goes on, the more I appreciate how much I owe to my roots. Japan is my spiritual and ancestral home - the connection I feel there is so visceral and has shaped much of my life, largely without me even being fully aware of its influence. This music is me openly embracing and interpreting what Japan means, feels like and sounds like to me.

Leaning into the moods and textures of Japan’s folkloric mythology and culture in tandem with his already nuanced blend of jazz, live electronics and sampling, de Clive-Lowe takes us on a culture-rich journey through his own sonic imagination, seamlessly fusing genres and blurring the lines between technology and live musicianship.

A New Year | Anu Sun

Producer and frequent Robert Glasper collaborator Anu Sun debuts KAEPtain Amerikkka, the first single from his forthcoming album Sanguine Regum. Affectionately known as “Anu The Giant,” Anu has a physical stature that compliments his tremendous place in the music game. Aside from being a staple in New York City’s live music scene, his recent credits include work on the Grammy Award winning motion picture soundtrack Miles Ahead and work on his partner Robert Glasper’s Grammy nominated Black Radio 2 album. Anu has also worked intimately on projects of music legends Johnny Cash and Miles Davis. In KAEPtain Amerikkka Anu addresses the present quandary of the African American while raising a firm fist of support for controversial football star-turned activist Colin Kaepernick.

‘Why must you hate and degrade us / Try all you want, you can’t wreck us’, Anu raps with conviction. KAEPtain Amerikkka is a genre-merging, socially conscious tune that seamlessly melds Hip-Hop, Trap and Rock vibes into a single ground rattling composition.