Rock Horn Project was formed by hornist and composer Adam Wolf. Combining elements from rock, jazz, and classical, RHP continues its warpath on breaking down the walls of genres and creating a new and exciting sound. More than your typical band, RHP aims to do more than perform, but to also encourage and inspire young musicians of any kind to pursue their hopes of creating a career path in music. Adam Wolf being the french hornist in a rock band, surely surprises no one that he and the band are passionate about the idea of young musicians on any instrument heading down a path that perhaps is not paved by their predecessors, but rather start their own and lay the groundwork for their individual legacy. Calling Los Angeles its home, RHP is comprised of musicians with training in just about every kind of music one could imagine, and the music of RHP is constantly drawing inspiration from these eclectic backgrounds.
Weiss began dabbling with the idea of the Point of Departure band as early as 2004 but began the group in earnest in 2006 when he was offered a regular Thursday night residency at the Greenwich Village club Fat Cat. The regular gig gave Weiss the opportunity to try out many up-and-coming musicians on the scene in various combinations until the personnel became solidified. By the end of the six month run, Weiss felt he had a fully realized new band with a unique sound and approach; a harmonically adventurous band with more of a free approach to the music that could switch grooves from swing to funk to rock in different time signatures on a dime. His original idea for the sound of the band drew on his experiences playing with the Haitian kompa super group Tabou Combo. That band featured two guitarists playing interweaving guitar lines that defined the sound of the band. When the band recorded the horn section, they had the horns record every line twice and one would be panned far left and the other far right creating a unique stereo effect. Weiss thought using two guitarists could make both these concepts work, the interweaving lines and when the guitarists both played chords in unison could achieve a interesting stereo effect. After a few failed attempts during their initial residency, the decision was made to stick to one guitarist until a proper 2nd guitarist was found. When conceptualizing the new CD, the decision was made to attempt the two guitar sound again and this time everything fell into place with two new amazing young guitarists, Ben Eunson and Travis Reuter came aboard. The new CD also stretches the parameters of the original group concept a little by adding material from the Mahavishnu Orchestra and the Brazilian avant garde fusion band Grupo Um.
The music seems to shimmer in the air, as Weiss and saxophonist Myron Walden essay the melodies in thoughtful unison and bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Kush Abadey pound the rhythms home. (Stereogum)
Prolific creator and perfomer Mark de Clive-Lowe kicked off 2017 with a banger - Live At The Blue Whale finds Mark in his native element with a world class crew. Brandon Eugene Owens, Josh Johnson, and Gene Coye bring the vision to life, as Mark pays homage to three of his heroes - Yusef Lateef, Sun Ra, and Ahmad Jamal. Live At The Blue Whale is that centerpiece in your collection - the go to groove that delivers. In the fashion of modern curation, the album appeared in limited edition vinyl and CD, snapped up by the faithful who know. Drop in here for an insightful interview with Mark, and here to stream Live At The Blue Whale.
On Afro-Caribbean Mixtape, propelled by keyboardist Kevin Hays, bassist Vicente Archer, drummer Joe Dyson, percussionist Daniel Sadownick, and turntablist DJ Lady Fingaz, Payton seamlessly coalesces his interests, drawing on a global array of beats, melodies and harmonic consciousness to serve his lifelong conviction that music is a process by which the practitioner uses notes and tones to map identity and tell a story.
“I’ve been thinking of the resilience of Black people and African culture,” Payton says of the gestation of Afro-Caribbean Mixtape. “How Africans came on ships to ports in the Caribbean. How those rhythms from Africa got dropped off at points like Haiti and Cuba and Puerto Rico. How those influences and elements sauntered on to New Orleans, which many consider the northern-most part of the Caribbean, and on to Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago and then New York. How, with the advent of the phonograph, this New Orleans music became the world’s first popular music as the result of this new medium. How Louis Armstrong became the world’s first pop star, the Michael Jackson of his era. How the music in this African tribal DNA, as I call it, contains all the codes that connect all people—not only all Black or African people—throughout the world.
“I’ve incorporated elements from all the things I’ve written and spoken about for years. It speaks to the moment politically in an overt way that my other albums don’t. On a musical-conceptual level, I think it’s my greatest work thus far.”
February 2, 2017 - The incomparable Nate Smith delivers KINFOLK: Postcards from Everywhere, on which he fuses his original modern jazz compositions with R&B, pop, and hip-hop. The disc shows Smith leading a scintillating core ensemble, consisting of pianist and keyboardist Kris Bowers, guitarist Jeremy Most, alto and soprano saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, electric bassist Fima Ephron, and singer and lyricist Amma Whatt, and Michael Mayo on backing vocals. The lineup expands on several cuts with the inclusion of Potter and Holland along with other illustrious guests – guitarists Lionel Loueke and Adam Rogers, and singer Gretchen Parlato.
As the title KINFOLK suggests, the music bristles with a magnetism that can be only achieved by assembling the right musicians, building upon and blending their individual voices and developing a bracing group rapport. Indeed, Smith refers to the aforementioned musicians as “kindred spirits,” while embracing some philosophies gleaned from his mentor, Holland. “Dave once told me, ‘I really believe that musicians find each other,’” Smith recalls. “He feels that all the collaborations he’s done and all the sidemen that he’s hired came into his life on purpose, even though he might not have been looking for something specific. He discovers people along the way.
January 27, 2017 - Atlas - Filmed and recorded in an old church which has become a centre for the arts in Belfast, 'Affinity' sees Atlas accompanied by string quartet and percussion and represents all the music these musicians have grown up with and the music they have to grown to love in more recent times. From delicate string arrangements reminiscent of Sigur Ros to cascades of sound from the ethereal world of Jon Hopkins, they have added an ingredient that is inherently Irish to the mix to create a record that encompasses where they have come from and where they are going.
"Atlas seamlessly blends traditional Irish folk elements with pop melodicism into something really colorful. Taught interplay between acoustic guitar and concertina, with world fusion rhythmic elements. It's very cinematic music." - Mark Lettieri (Snarky Puppy)
First Up - New Standard Duo: The acclaimed Jazz historian Scott Yanow writes of this debut “Drummer Eric Binder and tenor-saxophonist Robert Brooks, both of whom are based in Illinois, have stretched the idea a bit on New Standard Duo. While their improvising has its freer moments, they also stick to the framework and rhythm of the songs. When one considers that there are no chordal or harmony instruments, the fact that listeners can tell where the two musicians are in each tune shows how successful the musicians are at making every sound count, implying the chords and filling in for the “missing” instruments."
We find the album a delightful in it's simple presentation, good for an ambitious newcomer to Jazz yet familiar for those with a deeper collection.
Learn more here.
It is our great honor to announce that AJ Ghent will be joining the Ropeadope family. AJ hails from a powerful musical family of historical importance; His Great Uncle Willie Eason created the Sacred Steel Tradition, and his Grandfather and Father were both key figures in bringing this music forward. AJ has been here before, with his searing guitar work on Col Bruce Hampton's Pharaoh's Kitchen, but now he is set to release his new record - The Neo-Blues Project - on March 16, 2018. To kick things off he's dropping right into the mix with the first track now. Step over here and listen to the power.
"Mike Mitchell is truly one of the great young gifted ones of our time. I have watched him grow from the age of 17 to now being 22. I believe that every young musician should aspire to be like him musically. He is not just all raw talent but something much greater." -- Stanley Clarke
"His music makes you open the Heavens and sets pillows for your emotions." -- Erykah Badu
"One of the most daring and forward sounding debuts I've heard come out of the culture. A riveting and original album that showcases a deeply hip and original production style, beats and vocals. IT ALL FEELS FRESH!! A fearless debut and absolute must have for anyone looking for what's next!" -- Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah
We agree. The new album from Blaque Dynamite - Killing Bugs - is out worldwide today. Drop in HERE and take a listen.
Louis Cato is that true multi-instrumentalist, holding down the drum chair with Marcus Miller, guitar and drums with Bobby Mcferrin, and guitar and bass on the late show with Steven Colbert. In between his time producing with Q-Tip, or recording on the new Jack White record, Louis Cato is a singer and songwriter – and his debut is ready for release on November 17. A collection of uplifting songs that can be defined as funky pop, Starting Now reveals Cato’s view of the world – the message that he wants to fully convey. Lyrically, he reminds us of John Lennon and Bob Marley in that he is totally open and accessible – his story is our story.
“I set out to make an honest record, a documentation of who I am and what I do…I feel like I’ve done that.”
Started in 2015 with the premiere release from Ghost-Note, RSVP has been carefully aligning the right performers to build the label. And now the time has come to show what the label can do : First up, the artist formerly known as Tonex, B Slade.
B. Slade is already a legend: hundreds of songs, at least two names, songwriter and producer for Chaka Khan, Faith Evans and more. B Slade is that personality that knows the fans, that continues to amaze and intrigue the audience. In short, B Slade is an enigma. His new self titled album is a story, from Saturday night at the club until Sunday morning. Forget discussion of genre and classification – just get your ears in the game and see where he leads.
If you're not hip to Prince Polo Records, now is a good time to check in. Headed up by producer / engineer / musician Billy Polo, the label has that old school authentic Reggae sound in the pocket. The lead album from Quizflo is still in heavy rotation here at Ropeadope. And now Prince Polo returns with a banger from BAJAH, the Sierra Leone native who has turned the ears of many and inspired ?uestlove to call him 'the Michael Jackson of West Africa'. Bajah's songs are about love, and the mission is to bring inspiration and hope to all of us with powerful rhythm. Polo produced Universal Soldier, intending to make a record that represented Brooklyn. The sound is big, combining Reggae, Hip-Hop, dub, and of course African style. Start off right here with open ears.
‘I’m not interested in harming anyone. I have a responsibility as an artist to create a space where people feel welcome. When I walk outside this hotel room, that is not the reality. There is a difference when music is made with love. When people come into my space they are going to feel that. We are trying to figure out a way to treat each other better. We are all responsible for healing each other.‘ (Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah).
Thus begins the final chapter of The Centennial Trilogy : three full length albums that reflect deeply on the history of Jazz. The third album - The Emancipation Procrastination - deals directly with the social and political issues of the day. Rather than descend into identity politics, Adjuah sees in New Orleans many disparate cultures in one space being underserved and exploited.
The divine Chantae Cann has graced us with her presence and positive energy yet again! Her second album, Sol Empowered, is a love letter to her fans with an uplifting and positive message for all of us. No stranger to challenges, Chantae has chosen to take conscious daily action towards a positive response to the world, and to fulfill her destiny by sharing that energy and inspiring others to do the same. Recording with a tight group of friends in Atlanta GA, Sol Empowered delivers the message with a soulful groove. Enjoy the love and light.
In the fall of 2016, by serendipitous means, Col. Bruce Hampton shared his enthusiasm as he entered The Vista Room in Decatur GA. He was met by Mike Rizzi, whose intent was to create a space that was truly a musician’s room. With memories of The Brandy House, where The Fiji Mariners would hold court many times, Bruce adopted the room as his own right away. Popping in for a conversation with ‘The Great Rizz’, Bruce began what would be a weekly residency with The Madrid Express. The first show was December 22, 2016 - and as the vibe was felt the community began to grow. For six months Bruce would settle in with a team of the best musicians, refining his craft to it’s most focused and subtle. The Bruce Hampton version of Jackie Wilson at The Latin Casino: comfortable, without the show lights and the spectacle - just Bruce and the cats hanging out and preparing to deliver. And deliver they did as Bruce returned to the roots, with a rhythm section that would lay in that old Rhythm and Blues style a la Bobby Blue Bland, and wait for the unexpected left turn.
After all, three lefts do make a right.
The Vista Room was conceived with ears first and eyes second - a room built from the back to the front by a seasoned player. If the room was right for musicians, they will bring their friends, and so on. As is often the case, Bruce Hampton's arrival affirmed the beauty of the mission and a common void was filled for both parties - a spot where the outside world stayed outside, with no TV and an intimate setup. Mike Rizzi soon dubbed Bruce ‘The Pope Of The Vista’ as he and many others witnessed community through music each week. In Rizzi’s words ‘There wasn’t a brighter light in the Vista than Col. Bruce Hampton’.
Bruce was also taken with the Vista's sound quality. On March 16, 2017 he had the engineer record that night's sold out Madrid Express show with the intent of releasing it on vinyl. For several weeks the project was being finished by Bruce, and is now in the hands of his band with the blessing of Bruce's estate.
Col. Bruce Hampton and The Madrid Express – Live At The Vista Room captures the night: Bruce as bandleader starting low and understated, telepathically communicating the use of dynamics to the band and building to the aforementioned left turn. And so, we present Col Bruce Hampton and The Madrid Express Live At The Vista Room. The universal chaos of creativity, weathered by experience and honesty to the craft, steeped over time with all of the mystery intact.
Release Date October 20, 2017
"His spirited style still has its bite, but there is also a warmly communicative manner in his musicianship and that is something to be treasured. Somehow it does not seem too long when Richard X Bennett is more widely known, both as a pianist and as a musical iconoclast" (Raul Da Gama | World Music Report}
We are still unraveling the mystery of Richard X Bennett by digging into both of his new releases. The quintet project, Experiments With Truth, brings North Indian classical compositions into a Jazz context, and it is delightful to explore. What Is Now is a trio album that swings New York style, showing the range of Bennett's style and experience. These are records to put in your collection and visit when your urge for discovery is strong.
Cue up that search engine and look into the deep history of Mr. Shannon Powell; drummer par excellence who understands that music is a feeling. Powell is known as the 'King Of The Treme', and has performed with great Jazz artists but also bluesmen like Earl King and Snooks Eaglin. Miami born, New Orleans transplant Darren Hoffman met Powell while studying drums at the University Of New Orleans, and soon the duo were hanging out at Donna's Bar and Grill and talking music all the time. This year they made their way to the studio to record some classics - blues songs that bring 21st century technology back to the 20th century root. the result is a four song EP, and band is called Uncle Nephew to mirror the relationship between these two dedicated musicians. The record hits on October 27th, check out the first track and preorder here.
Based in Paris, The Kandinsky Effect is drummer Caleb Dolister, bassist Gael Petrina, and saxophonist Warren Walker. For ten years the band has been touring the world, refining their approach to composition and performance. Dolister's open admiration of both Meshuggah and Jaga Jazzist, along with Walker and Petrina's appreciation for electronic music have interwoven as the band brings a variety of effects into what began as a traditional Jazz structure. The result is a lush, complex sound that does not strain, but flows with intent. TKE's fourth studio album, PAX 6, finds the band fully realizing a solid musical vision rather than grasping for one. Pax 6 is set for release on September 29, preorders are available on Apple Music and Bandcamp.
Richard X Bennett is a world traveler, with 30 years of experience on the music scene. We've already mentioned his powerful new Raga powered Quintet album due out on October 6 (see post below), but he's also got a trio album - What Is Now - which displays a very different facet of his musical expression. Here Bennett is featured as a bold, percussive instrumentalist and composer, with Adam Armstrong on bass and Alex Wyatt on drums. With a range of mood, energy, and tone - from Afropop to doo-wop to cinematic pieces - What Is Now is consistently compelling. Take a listen for yourself right here.
When Richard X Bennett appeared at the Ropeadope HQ we knew this cat was one of us. Hip, dynamically fashionable, and intent on digging deeply into music history and interpreting it for himself. Richard's remarkable path includes three decades playing a diverse array of music on the NY scene and a series of highly acclaimed albums in India, where he studied Raga. And now, Richard brings us not one but two new records for release on October 6th. Experiments with Truth, features the rhythm section of bassist Adam Armstrong and drummer Alex Wyatt, with Richard on piano, Lisa Parrott on Bari Sax, and Matt Parker on tenor and alto.
Bennett says the quintet’s repertoire is 'kind of like Mingus meets raga in the 21st century. This is the first time I’ve brought this music back into jazz instrumentation. I don’t claim to be a raga musician, because first off, the piano isn’t a raga instrument. I’d say it’s raga-based.'
Bennett credits the combustible chemistry between saxophonists Lisa Parrott and Matt Parker with energizing the raga project. Rather than writing out the ragas, he presents it as a regular tune, albeit one with unusual notes for a Western ear. Parrott’s affinity for Ornette Coleman’s music provides a trenchant point of entry.
“Harmolodics have a certain commonality with raga in the way they deal with melody. She’s a melodic improviser, and Matt is our wild man. His notes slide and glide, like Bismillah Khan. I love ’em both. They have such power.”