With album titles like Music From The Multiverse and Away From The Many, pianists Aaron Dolton and Richard X Bennett have clearly informed us that they draw from sacred places within as they compose and play their music. Recently the two connected via digital means and began to collaborate. What began as a simple track remix became a full length album of reinvention as they both found common experience and expression. 

It’s like waking up as another person.  Who wouldn't want that. It is me, but it’s not me. (Richard X Bennett)

 I found the existing structures fantastic to work against; composing, editing and then gaining feedback on the changes. (Aaron Dolton)

And so we present to you Wood/Water:  A unique project from two creative minds searching to make beauty from life's challenges, and finding that the process has endless permutations.

The mood: Reflective expression, ambient with a groove. 

 

 

Philthy is Philthy

His biography lists Philip Lassiter as horn arranger for the late Prince Rogers Nelson, but as we all know, there is alway a story behind such success. His father was a preacher, and his mother got him started with piano, but it's not about a simple gift of talent; Phil took in the world around him in Dallas Texas and beyond, humble and driven to learn from everyone he met. And learn he did, becoming indispensable as an arranger and producer as well as a sought after trumpeter. 

“Stay humble and hungry - get into the practice of admitting that you don’t have something, and then you can really really grow.’ (Philip Lassiter)

After two solo albums, Philthy has teamed up with vocalist Elliott Yamin to bring us Party Crashers - a heavy hitting funky album with horns that lunch and vocals that grab the soul. With Phil's arrangements and horns, Elliott's old world gravelly vocals, and a cast of greats including MonoNeon, Jason Thomas, Bobby Sparks, Keith Anderson, and Tommy Sims - Party Crashers is your summertime banger. Tune in and shake it, baby. 

 

 

RoSaway

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Rachel Ombredane and Stéphane Avellaneda are a flute and drums duo. Yes, that's correct, from the back of the orchestra and the back of the band to the front of the stage. Rachel earned her degree(s) in flute, musicology, and vocals at esteemed Parisian schools, and Stef cut his teeth on the world stage touring with Serbian guitarist Ana Popovic. Both have the skill to play and perform the music of their choosing, and together they are RoSaway - a sort of pop, sort of electronic, sort of Jazz band with flute, drums, Rachel's otherworldly vocal, and a bit of help from Adam Ahuja on keys. RoSaway's new single, Freedom, hits on Infinity Gritty via Ropeadope on June 29th. Stay tuned right over here.

Javier Santiago

From Minneapolis to Stockton CA to NYC, Javier Santiago's path has been in earnest, searching for the right combination of musical knowledge, skill, and influence. Selected to attend the Brubeck Institute, Javier learned from greats like Christian McBride, Robert Glasper, Nicholas Payton, and Joshua Redman before heading to the New School to further his study. Outside of class Santiago honed his production skills as well, and now he brings his world to the fore with the album Phoenix, an exploration in Jazz with the core band of Corey Fonville, Zach Brown, Dayna Stephens, Ben Flocks, and Nir Felder. Phoenix is what people might have called 'Future Jazz' just a few years ago - but the future is now so we'll just call it Jazz. Phoenix hits on June 29th, and is available for preview and preorder right here.

Aeons and Aeons

This is one of those posts - where we have an artist (or two) who have really strong bios in their genre but the new album doesn't sound anything like what they have previously done. Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh is an award-winning traditional singer and musician from Corca Dhuibhne, West Kerry. A leading exponent of the traditional sean nós style, her repertoire also includes songs from a wide variety of folk and contemporary sources. Described as “one of the freshest sounds in Irish music” by fRoots magazine, Padraig Rynne is a virtuoso musician, prolific composer and is regarded as one of the finest concertina players in Irish music today. OK, now throw that away and get ready to hear the new sounds these two make together. Aeons is like a hazy dream state drifting aimlessly around the center of the universe. Ambient Celtic ambassadors is the best way to describe these two - check out Fis by Aeons, due out on June 29. 

Pendulum Swings | Angelo Moore

Angelo Moore is hitting the road with fierce energy and dedication. The Brand New Step is his project outside of Fishbone, and it's a traveling groove and politics driven storm. Claude Coleman Jr (Ween), Ashish “Hash” Vyas (Thievery Corporation), JJ Jungle (The Coup), Hassan Hurd (The Coup) form the core, with vocals from Butterscotch, Cheyenne Moore, and Bridney Reese. Ths IS the brand new step, and Angelo has a treat for us today as he drops a classic single with a B-side to address the current state of confusion in the good ol U S of A. The signature sound is courtesy of the infamous Rondo Brothers of Berkeley California, with frequent collaborator Kris Jensen on guitar. The B-side is Marvin Gaye's Inner City Blues as only Angelo Moore can do it. 

You'll want to catch the groove and the lyrics on these, and drop them into your playlist for heavy rotation. 

Tosin Aribisala | Afrika Rising

Born and raised in Nigeria, Tosin Aribisala grew up digging deep into his father's vast record collection. As a drummer from Nigeria, the natural influence of Fela Kuti, Tony Allen, and King Sunny Ade are there, but Tosin's wide interests led him to credit many others: Art Blakey, Dennis Chambers, Bob Marley, Sting, and Seal. If you sense a pattern in that influence, you are correct - Tosin is an inspiring soul whose passion for the music and the people is immense. He has performed with many, from  Taj Mahal to Spyro Gyra to Femi Kuti, and he teaches worldwide to share his wisdom and positive energy with young and old.

'my music is a mixture of African rhythmic textures and some elements of jazz and blues, with lyrics of hope, love and human realities.'

Is it the music that shapes the man, or the man that shapes the music? It is both of course, and Tosin Aribisala is a light in a challenging world, bringing rhythm and energy to us all. His new album, Afrika Rising, is a stunning collection that speaks to the possibilities of a blended world - first the rhythm and then the exploration, all with an unforced but concise message. Afrika Rising hits on June 22, drop in here to preorder. 

cee knowledge

Craig Irving, the Philadelphia hip-hop vocalist better known as Cee Know the Doodlebug of the Grammy-winning hip-hop trio Digable Planets, is back with the second album from Cee Knowledge and the Cosmic Funk Orchestra. Dubbed Alien-Aided: A Cosmic Funk Anthology, the album brings us up to date with Cee's progressive Hip-Hop and funkified brand of streetwise jazz poetry, with many of his core travelers and some new guests including Schoolly D and Cookie Rabinowitz. Due out on Philly's Artists First Records, Alien Aided is accompanied by some serious animation from Eric Horvitz, whose work work you might recall from early Ropeadope years. Catch the first track and preorder right here

beekman live!

The eclectic Quartet named Beekman is back with their third offering - This time a pristine live recording from Chez Hanny in San Francisco. Hailing from three continents, Saxophonist Kyle Nasser, pianist Yago Vazguez, bassist Pablo Menares, and drummer Rodrigo Recabarren dig into the nether regions between Jazz, Rock, Latin, and Classical, stretching out comfortably and with purpose. These cats have a natural dialogue, as if they were finishing each other's sentences gracefully. Nasser's Sax glides throughout the compositions, never really in front or behind as Yago and Rodrigo speak in rhyme, with Pablo nodding his approval.

Four cats, three continents, three albums. This is Beekman.

Stephanie McKay | Modern Icon

Stephanie McKay holds the American Story in her being. Not that white picket fence, rags to riches story but the real American story. Raised with a steady hand by working class parents who sacrificed their dreams for the next generation, Stephanie found her voice in middle school. Singing the lead in a junior high school concert, she brought her father to tears with the beauty of her voice. And so the path forward was set; auditions followed and led her to a scholarship in the Alvin Ailey children’s program. Stephanie had ambitions of joining the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, but after a knee injury she set her sights on college. Her mother encouraged her to put aside financial concerns, and soon she made her way to Philadelphia’s University Of The Arts, studying dance with some of the greatest performers of their time. 


Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans, of course, and so it was not long before Stephanie answered an ad for a singing gig that changed her path. She became one of three girls in The Promise, recording an album for Arista Records with Kashif as producer. Top names were around, from Greg Philiganes to Lisa Fisher and Paulette McWilliams. Stephanie cut her teeth in this high level environment, making connections and enjoying the spotlight, but with a careful eye on the dangers of the music business. 

Stephanie McKay has walked the challenging line between the pitfalls of fame and the real heart of musical expression. Her credits show her careful selection of collaborations; not just gigs but an organic evolution of her connections. Kelis, Amp Fiddler, Roy Hargrove, Brooklyn Funk Essentials, Yasiin Bey, Talib Kweli, DJ Spinna, and more – each has a specific individuality, and have held their art above commercial success. 
 
After two solo albums and a break to raise her son, Stephanie Mckay has recently returned to music, collaborating with Adrian Harpham in the supergroup Light Blue Movers, and working with Harpham on her new project. Song In My Heart. Set for release on June 15, Song In My Heart finds McKay in a deep experimental and soulful place of expression. Produced by Adrian Harpham, old soul uses new technique to bring the full breadth of McKay’s writing and voice. From the gentle and yearning ‘Quietly’, to the empowering title track, to the delightful, life affirming track Life, co-written with Stephanie’s son – Song In My Heart is gem to be held close at all times.  

Back in Philly, back in the day – Stephanie McKay would see Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff outside Philadelphia International Records as she headed to class at UArts. Somehow with the twists and turns of life she seems to have absorbed the essence of their quest for soulful music, with a song in her heart.

Tommaso Cappellato | Aforemention Remixed

Since releasing his acclaimed debut album Aforemention, drummer, DJ and producer Tommaso Cappellato has taken his solo project to live stages all over the world - from Los Angeles’ Low End Theory to New York’s NUBLU, from Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival Leysin to Kyoto’s legendary Club Metro. Now, we’re graced with four stunning re-interpretations of songs from his longplayer, lovingly reimagined by talent from all over the planet.

Each rework came into being through a story of friendship, comradery or even random encounters – such as in the case of London-based soul singer Natalie May who happened to be in the audience at Cappellato’s London show at Jazz Re:freshed, and improvised her melody to “R’n’Free”, recording it straight onto her phone right then and there. One of the most popular songs on the album, “Fly” - beautifully vocalled by LA gem Nia Andrews, gets flipped into anthemic soulful house for dancefloor lovers by legendary DJ/producer Alex Attias (Beatless/Mustang) with keyboard contributions courtesy of master piano/keys/electronics performer Mark de Clive-Lowe. Afrikan Sciences - an authority among the most visionary electronic music creators - delivered a stunning, cubistic drum-machine-driven rework of “Pastlife Flashbacks” - only 48 hours after getting the stems!; while Emanative, a fellow drummer with whom Tommaso has shared the DJ booth with on a few occasions, paints an ambitious sonic canvas taking elements from each individual song from the original album and titles it “Emanative’s Affirmation”, a uniquely beautiful 12-minute conceptual ambient soundscape.

Adam & Kizzie

Adam & Kizzie Ledbetter, known as Adam & Kizzie, hail from Oklahoma City: a stop in the rich vein of Jazz and Blues that runs north from Houston. They became friends in high school, rapping, singing, and dancing in and after school. Kizzie went off and traveled the world in Disney performances, while Adam performed at home with his Jazz Quartet New Growth. In 2011 they reunited and soon became husband and wife.

Sharing their very different musical interests, Adam’s focus expanded from Jazz to Hip-Hop, while Kizzie’s influences stemmed from Music Theatre to Pop/R&B. Their curiosity and ability to draw from Gospel, Jazz, Hip-Hop, and many varieties of Pop music soon found them charting their own unique path. As a duo, they were pushed by necessity to learn new methods, using live looping and layered vocals to create new music. After two acclaimed records, the duo have found the sublime zone that fully expresses what they do. 

Book Of EEDO Vol 3 is set for release on June 8th. The first single, Breathless, is a stunning track that expresses their love – for each other, for music, and for the divine. Simple, universal lyrics of love. Kizzie sings the hook over her own recorded harmonies. Adam beatboxes while handling the keys, with some freestyle in the bridge. And that is just the beginning – from start to finish Book Of EEDO Vol 3 is a journey through their world of spontaneous musical expression. 

New Music | NBOC

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Trombone, Tuba, Vocals, DJ/Producer and Artist, Courtney Brown AKA Neeyz, is a London-based musician with a low brassy presence. He was educated at the Royal Academy of Music, where he gained a scholarship to study Bass Trombone.

Trumpeter Jay Phelps is a Vancouver-born Canadian with an instantly recognizable warm and projecting tone. He was tutored by the city’s top Jazz and Classical trumpeters and distinguished himself as the youngest band-leader in the Vancouver International Jazz Festival’s history.

This London based duo are making cutting edge alternative Hip-Hop and combining many of the elements found in the mainstream version of the genre, but with an understanding of Jazz and other sounds from around the world. They combine their talents of production, brass instruments, and singing, and have grown as a band that has created a very unique sound. 

NBOC hits the airwaves on June 22, preorders start June 1. Stay tuned. 

New Music | Alex Conde

Our friends at Uprising Music are poised for their first release this week. Alex Conde was trained in classical music at the Jose Iturbi Conservatory of Music in Valencia, Spain. Furthering his study at Berklee, Conde has composed and performed in Classical, Flamenco, and Jazz. His new album, Origins, is a fusion album merging the roots and elements of Flamenco (bulerias, soleares), Afro-Cuban (guaguanco and rumba) and American Jazz forms. The mystery of the clave is found in flamenco palos like seguiriya or soleá. The album is an exploration into the roots of Afro-Cuban music and Jazz from a Flamenco perspective. Origins features notable guests Conrad Herwig, Marcus Gilmore, Dayna Stephens, Brian Lynch, Luques Curtis, Ismael Fernandez and Guillermo Barron and more.

New Music | Project K-paz

Adam Ahuja just does not stop - his Infinity Gritty label is in full swing while he holds down a spot in a variety of bands. This time he unveils Project K-Paz: started in 2009 by Alvaro Kapaz and Pablo Eluchans, Project K-Paz delivers pure improvisational music. Currently formed as a trio with Ahuja on keys, their new album is titled Post-Something - inspired by deep reflection on our times. 

'We are in a controversial era, when the world seems easily polarized and tensions quickly rise. But the future lies in the hands of the new generations, who bring us hope of a reality that will build bonds out of bleak surroundings, turning our differences into strengths, and discover a new unity for our humanity. How we as humans choose to deal with sadness, loss, excitement, madness, joy, love.' (Project K-Paz)

Post-Something was recorded in one night with Infinity Gritty alum and general wizard of all recording things E. Scott Lindner

New Music | Eric Binder Trio

In this age of rapid fire information, context is the key to understanding. Drummer and composer Eric Binder digs into the remarkable history of Bassist Malcom Cecil on his new album. An important figure in the British jazz scene of the 1960s, Cecil worked with the Jazz Five, Ronnie Scott, and many more but soon went on to record and produce for greats like Stevie Wonder, Gil Scott-Heron, Quincy Jones, Richie Havens and more - the list is stunning. For this reason Cecil's brilliance as a bassist became overlooked, and now Eric Binder has teamed up with Malcolm Cecil and tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm to remind us of that brilliance. 

The Malcom Cecil Project is set for release on June 1st - drop in and catch the swing right here.  

New Music | Venture

On a non-eventful morning in late winter I set up a conference call with two seasoned legends of the Jazz scene. I wanted to get to the core of what drives them, how they keep the excitement in their game. Mark Sherman, fidget spinner in hand, calmly told me of the origin of the new band, interspersed with stories of the old and new days. It goes like this: Antonio Farao had a gig in New York at Smoke with Mark and Mike Clark in the band. They played a couple of Mark’s tunes, and the vibe drove them forward.  

‘Hey Man, we should DO something’

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And so it began. They brought in Felix Pastoriuson bass and the rhythm just hit with Mike and Felix mastering the swing. Enter a young Sax player from Boston – Chase Baird– whose intonation met the challenge. Venture, a swinging band spanning four generations of players, took the money from the gigs and went into the studio to record. Starting with Mark’s tunes, Mike and Chase offered a few selections of their own and the tracklist was set. 

Mark Sherman’s writing is superb, offering all kinds of possibilities for these four band members, all playing at the highest level with enthusiasm. There is no waiting to get in the groove, instant communication happens and it just takes right off. 

‘Chase is a shredder… he shows no mercy, and neither do we! It’s like a pack of hungry dogs going after meat’

Mark Sherman and Mike Clark have seen it all – from big stages around the world to small venues in Manhattan – and they love every gig. That perspective drives the art form forward with positive energy. Venture is true to the name – a Venture into a common space between four seasoned players of different times. Enjoy the ride!

New Music | Sasha Masakowski

From the great city of New Orleans, Sasha Masakowski grew up with music all around. Her father, Steve Masakowski, is a celebrated jazz guitarist; her mother Ulrike is a concert pianist and visual artist. Sasha describes her childhood as a ‘very colorful family dynamic’, which was mirrored on the street by the cultural vibrance of the city and the specific way people celebrate life (and death) with music and art. Yet it was not until she moved away to pursue her career that Sasha understood the full value and unique beauty of the city.

Sasha takes her experience and reflects back on her home city with a unique take on the music. All you need to hear is her rework of the Sugar Boy Crawford staple Jockamo and you know you are in for a fun ride. Sparse and playful, the track leads off the new album - Art Market - and we are captivated with the artist and the sound. Drop in here for an early listen.