From Washington Heights to Lincoln Center - that is how you do it. And that's just what Lakecia Benjamin did, using her Saxophone as a tool for growth. She's traveled the world as an ambassador - not just for Jazz but for Women of Color - and held her head high as a bandleader. Benjamin has played with the best, from Stevie Wonder to Clark Terry, and now she is ready to release her latest work - Rise Up - to the world. Featuring a solid band and special guests Maurice Brown, China Moses, and more, Rise Up is a powerful statement both in Jazz and on the current state of our culture. The title track - March On - starts with the quote ' You can either live your dream, or live your fears', and that sums it up right out of the gate. Rise Up hits on March 23, with preorders opening February 23. Dig.
Middle Blue was conceived by guitarist Brad Farberman - something funky, with tunes, a tight band but open to personnel changes. Start with a bass (Danny Tambarelli) and a bari sax (Dave Sewelson), book a show at a magical music room (Troost), and everything will fall into place. And well it did, with a monthly gig, additions to the band, and a recording to top it off. Keyboardist Jared Pauley, Ropeadope alum Jeremy Danneman on Alto, Jessica Lurie on Tenor and flute, and the funkiest living drummer - Mike Clark - were soon on the roster and in the studio. The result is LOVE CHORDS, hitting the streamwaves on March 16th worldwide. Preorder hits this Friday, so drop by - we'll be here.
In 2016, The MK Groove Orchestra was the house band for 9 epic movie themed dance parties thrown at The Mckittrick Hotel, home of the long running immersive theater production Sleep No More, billed as “Supercinema.” The venue was converted to the landscape of the movie and the MKGO was the house band at these parties, performing MKʼs original arrangements of music from, and inspired by, the chosen film theme for the venueʼs revelers.
Jabberwockie was written for the Alice in Wonderland Supercinema, and was chosen to be presented at this auspicious time to commemorate 15 years of the MK Groove Orchestra as a stand alone track as it represents the highest degree of artistry the band can execute and present at this time for the greatest impact.
We are humbled and honored to be announce that the great Mike Clark has joined the Ropeadope family of artists. His father was a railroad man and Mike picked up a great understanding of different musical styles around the country while riding the rails. From Herbie Hancock's Headhunters to a long list of the greats, Mike Clark shows how it's done both on the drums and as a Jazzman. Hip, positive, and adventurous at 70, Mike met up with his longtime friend Delbert Bump and together they tracked an album of Hammond based grooves - Retro Report, bringing in young Elias Lucero to rip it up on guitar with some horn touches from Vince Denham and Rob Dixon. This is your Father's Jazz, your Sister's Jazz, your long lost Uncle Benny's Jazz, and your Grandson's Jazz. That is to say it crosses the span of time with a master's flick of the wrist. Retro Report hits on April 6 - stay tuned for this and more news from Mr. Clark.
Born in Vancouver and transplanted to London, Trumpeter Jay Phelps is a unique cat. His gears are always turning, and his resume shows it - touring with Jazz Jamaica, taking Wynton's chair as the master conducted the band in the epic 'Congo Square, hosting the Late Show at Ronnie Scott's - Jay moves in a variety of roles and keeps the music flowing. Jay's second solo album, Free As The Birds, is cued up for release on March 23rd here at Ropeadope, and it is best described as an exploration in sound. One can hear the breadth of Jay's experience, with a definite theatrical feel, and the warm tone that is his signature shining throughout. To top it off, Jay returns again on April 27th with NBOC - a trumpet and trombone production duo that heads heavily into a new sound.
On a busy day in New York City I got a call from Andrew Nelson of Great Peacock, asking if we could meet for a bit while they were traveling to their gig in Brooklyn. The only way the timing could work was if they met me in front of the Blue Note, and he agreed. Of course, the Nashville van wouldn’t fit in the parking garage so I just jumped in the van and got to know the band while driving around the west village looking for a spot. And so it was set, Ropeadope would release the next Great Peacock record. A beautiful collection of songs crafted by Andrew Nelson and Blount Floyd, recorded as a band with little studio tinkering. Gran Pavo Real captures a band in a room, playing great songs. And that’s rock and roll.
It is with distinct pleasure that we announce the release of The John L. Nelson Project - Don't Play With Love. The long anticipated album was in discussion between Nelson and his eldest daughter Sharon many years ago, before Prince Rogers Nelson changed the world of music. Shelved as John L. Nelson frequently collaborated with Prince, the project re-appeared in serendipitous fashion: the sheet music falling out of a cabinet as Sharon Nelson was organizing (yes, just like the movie). Sharon brought the great Louis Hayes (Prince's cousin) to Paisley Park with his seasoned band - including Richard Germanson, Dezron Douglas, Vincent Herring, and Jeremy Pelt - and they laid down seven tracks live.
The intense history paints the picture, yet the players and the melodies let the music jump right off the canvas. Don't Play With Love is a journey from the past to the present - we get the sense of an earlier time yet we feel all of the human emotion that rings true for eternity.
‘Our dad was a loving, caring, hardworking father and a prolific jazz musician most notably known as the father of the musical genius, our brother Prince. Our dad wrote and composed many songs, but they were never recorded until now. He was Prince’s musical inspiration, and this project is very special because it was recorded in Paisley Park and guided by the spirits of my father and brother Prince. (Sharon L. Nelson)
As a founder, John Medeski is forever linked with Ropeadope - from the first record (DJ Logic) to his work on The Word, The Campbell Brothers, and more. Todd Clouser is forever linked as well - a nomad dedicated to persistent collaboration, Todd has worked with Steven Bernstein, Chris Wood, dred scott, and a host of musicians on his path to make sense of the world around us. From directing Ropeadope SUR with Hernan Hecht, to Radio 21 million, to his Music Mission effort to support at-risk communities, Todd is always working for a greater good. Last year Todd, John, and drummer JT Bates held an epic throwdown at The Ice House in Minneapolis and recorded the night. Titled You The Brave, the full recording is available on January 26th worldwide. Dig.
Logan Richardson returns to Kansas City for his fourth studio album. Taking in the world experience, the LIFE experience, and the current state of humanity on the planet earth, Logan presents Blues People. Recorded in Omaha and mixed in KC, the album features local musicians Ryan Lee on drums, DeAndre Manning on bass, Justus West on guitar, and the Berlin based, Ukrainian guitar player Igor Osypov.
Blues People begins with an assault on the senses – heavy guitar sets the tone for what will be an excursion into the mind of Logan Richardson. If you were hoping for a nice Jazz lounge evening sipping brandy, you are immediately informed that this will not be the case. Logan stands in front of the heavy intro and states his intent with a quote from Donny Hathaway: ‘I like to do blues as a reflection on a period, past and present, in Black people’s lives. … It is a complete negative… on the secular side, of the religious music that we had in church.’ Logan further informs us ‘ I’m a country and western freak… I dig the simplicity’
And so we are forewarned and also welcomed: Logan tells us that this is chapter 2 of Shift and to an extent we agree. It is a chapter in his life, and a reflection on his personal experiences. Yet Blues People tells the story of a man’s place in history, with a perspective that can only be obtained by being Logan Richardson. In this personal way it becomes universal, as we all have a story to tell.
Based in New York and Austin Texas, Progger united in a Brooklyn studio this summer for their fourth studio album. A frenetic session of serious hustle and creative collaboration brought fourth Dystopia, an epic journey into a land that only Progger can inhabit. Brian Donohoe's compositions are well suited for two lead guitars, and having both crews in one place put four guitars in the room. What do we call that? Progger heaven. The beats are funky, the chords are smooth, with just the right touch of swirling psychedelic Prog-rock laid on top. Oh, and some extra love from Nate Werth and Justin Stanton. Get ready to dig in on this one.
LA born and Portland bred, Molly Tentarelli carries a legacy of music from her family tree. Her parents were both musicians on major labels, therefore Molly began singing and writing music at a young age. Touring the world as a vocalist with Jarrod Lawson, Molly returned to Portland and began her own project. She sent the music to her godfather (Mark Hudson) and he fell in love with the project. Mark asked his friend David Sanborn if he would be interested in playing on the album. Sanborn agreed, and the project was in full swing. Soon Will Lee, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl, Del Atkins, Pedrito Martinez, Oli Rockberger, Gregg Bissonette, Timothy B. Schmit, Ricky Z, Jason Sutter, Jim Cox, Anton Fig, Lelan Sklar, and Chris Botti were all in the mix, rounding out a beautiful album with extraordinary players. A strong backdrop for Molly's delicate voice and positive songs. The first single is out, and the album preorder begins next Friday. stop in here and follow for notifications.
The Great Escaper is back - Will Hanza and his retrofuture space rock/spy funk band of renegades are tearing it up again with their second studio album. Edge Detection was recorded at The Bunker in Brooklyn, with each band member performing simultaneously in isolation. The process captured the live interaction with all of the studio benefits. Bandleader and guitarist Will Hanza explains, “The term ‘jam’ can be a loaded one, but the idea of having some concrete ideas, while still allowing the music to be open to take advantage of the moment is really important to us.” This is a fan pleasing, room shaking experiment in music exploration, laying a solid launch pad for Hanza's soaring interstellar guitar. Drop in on Friday for a taste.
Release Date: February 23
If you're looking for some powerful, soul searching, deep down in the groove music - AJ Ghent [J-ent] has the goods. His new project, The Neo Blues project digs back and forward in time - a howling, jumping, soul-searing interpretation of the blues. AJ handles all of the instrumentation on the record, as he channels his family tradition and the wisdom of his mentor, Col. Bruce Hampton. In an age of shine with no substance, AJ brings the feeling back to the music without sacrificing the polish.
AJ Ghent [J-ent] is a musician hailing from Fort Pierce, Florida and growing up was all about the music. Music has truly been running through his family for generations; such as his great uncle Willie Eason, the creator of the “Sacred Steel Tradition,” and his grandfather Henry Nelson, the founder of the “Sacred Steel” rhythmic guitar style. This style is played by many names today, such as Robert Randolph, The Campbell Brothers, and more.
As we head into our 19th year as a 'record label', we'd like to send a big Thank You to all the music fans out there who keep this thing called Ropeadope running. 2017 was a stunning year of music, and we are pleased that we are able to bring both known and yet to be know artists to the mix. 2018 is shaping up to be even more diverse, with 38 releases already cued up from now until mid year. We start in January with a live album from Todd Clouser, John Medeski, and JT Bates, followed by the next record from Escaper and a gem from MK Groove Orchestra.
2018 will also mark the return of Ropeadope clothing, as we roll out select pieces from the past and add new capsule collections to help you tailor the Ropeadope vibe to your style. Sign up for the mailing list below to get the news early.
The Ropeadope family is growing, please stay with us and tell your friends so that we can support these incredible musicians on their journey. On this ball of confusion, we've got to keep the light shining.
louis cato is that true multi-instrumentalist, having held down the drum chair with marcus miller, guitar and drums while singing with bobby mcferrin, and a world of various instruments on the late show with stephen colbert. in between his time recording with q-tip or recording on the new jack white record, louis cato is a singer and songwriter - and his debut was released on 11/17/17. a collection of uplifting songs that can be defined as soulful 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.
Adam Ahuja’s new record, Ubiquity interlaces two solo styles: ‘live-looping,’ featuring a compact multi-instrumental setup used for single take performances, identical to his on-stage performance, and ‘band-style,’ where Ahuja jumps between keys, drum kit, bass, guitar, percussion, and vocals to gradually layer takes one instrument at a time into full tracks. In addition to the audio, the whole album recording was captured on film and produced as performance videos for each track.
From the increasingly diverse RSVP Records roster comes a record that is impossible to define: in fact we are still working to understand the work. B Slade is an enigma, a man who has released hundreds of songs in his 20 year career, and who slips past definition every time. Just when you think you know, he throws something at you that bends your ears and mind. His self titled album on RSVP is perhaps the best example - It begins with what could be popular Hip-Hop/Party music and moves through Soul and Gospel as B tells the story of heading out to the club straight through the next morning, complete with love and loss. It's a strange yet accurate tale of life in America, and there are moments where you cannot tell if he's poking fun or being serious. One thing is for certain, it's deep.
When a legendary drummer from New Orleans and a rock guitarist turned entrepreneur connect in The Big Easy - what happens? A hard driving modern Blues record with nothing but raw feeling - that's what. Shannon Powell is a drummer with diverse credits, a teacher, and a sage who still knows the true value of music - the FEELING. Darren Hoffman is a guitarist, a student of history, and man with an edge. Together they delivered a project entitled BLUES - 4 classic tracks in a stripped down and amped up format. If you want to hear the hallowed sound that drives the human need for music, click play now.
Billy "Prince" Polo dropped the highly anticipated Universal Souljah from Bajah on Prince Polo Records this fall. The joint effort with Sierra Leone superstar Bajah consists of 7 hard hitting tracks that are sure to send reggae fans into a frenzy.
"I wanted to make a record that was representative of New York, Brooklyn specifically." said Polo. "It was a chance to combine the common musical themes that Bajah and I both share and in the process create a new sound, and something that is uniquely Brooklyn in it's vibe."
Universal Souljah is exactly that. Universal. Musically it combines reggae, hip-hop, dub and African styles in a way that really hasn't been heard before, and the end result is something very special. From the heavy Rub a Dub style of Bigger Heads to the UK Dub influence of Love And Unity to the dancehall scorchers of Hot and I Feel Like this collection will take you on a journey that is both socially conscious and guaranteed to make you move your body on the dance floor.
"Bajah is a great artist and person and it comes across in his music. Making this record was such a great experience in so many ways." stated Polo. "He named the album and I couldn't think of a better representation of who he is and what he's about. Without question he is a Universal Soldier."