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 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.

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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. 

 

New Music | Odd Atlas

Saxophonist Warren Walker (The Kandinsky Effect) and Guitarist Federico Casagrande, long time friends active in the Paris music scene, have finally recorded together. Locking themselves in a remote alpine studio with their band mates Caleb Dollister and Sam Minae, Odd Atlas was formed on a frigid week in the mountains. Without much advance time due to travel, the band arrived with a few odd compositions and hammered out the sound collectively. The cold air seemed to press the sound out of the air, yet the room was warmed up by hours of creating music.  

Odd Atlas’ self titled album takes the listener through this process – seasoned and progressive post-Jazz performers and composers trading dialogue and concept. As the album progresses, you can feel the conversation deepening and heading towards new ground. The energy and backgrounds are different enough for contrast, with Casagrande’s gentle yet forceful guitar opening the floor for Walker’s  expressive sax. The album feels like a journey to unknown parts, or perhaps the long road back home.

Yak Attack X Ropeadope

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Dave Dernovsek, Rowan Cobb, and Nick Werth have put their minds together and the result is a full force electronica-slash-everything power trio that will blow your mind if you don't stay elastic. The name of this band is Yak Attack, and they are coming for you. Don't let the E word define it though, as the bands draws deeply from House, Drum & Bass, Breakbeat, and yes, Jazz. This band goes OUT, taking you along with a little groove in your step. In case you haven't picked it up the connection yet, Nick Werth is connected to the Ropeadope family via Ghost-Note, and we are thrilled to have him and his Yak Attack brothers join the roster. their new album, Safety Third, hits this fall and the band hits the road right now

 

 

 

New Music | Dimitrije Vasiljevic Quintet

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It was always the piano for Dimitrije Vasiljevic. As a child of 5 in Serbia, his mother took him for lessons and fate took care of the rest. Raised in the Russian system of classical training, Dimi found the piano expansive enough to satisfy his desire for playing and composing. Discovering Jazz as a teen, he did his time playing in the Belgrade Dixieland Orchestra building the foundation from the original Jazz source. Soon he was enrolled at Berklee, and if there was any turning back it was then most certainly too late. Jazz (with a capital J) had its hold on him, and turning back was futile.

‘Dimitrije’s music occupies a unique space, somewhere between the classical tradition and Jazz’ (Chris Potter)

Stay tuned for more about Dimitrije Vasiljevich Quintet. Accidental Nomad is available for Preorder on Friday 4/20. 

New Music | Paul Beaubrun

Paul Beaubrun grew up immersed in music; his family formed Boukman Eksperyans, a mizik rasin band from Port-au-Prince. The band name is derived from Dutty Boukman, who is credited as the starting point for the Haitian Revolution in 1791, and from the English word ‘Experience’, which is a direct reference to Jimi Hendrix. The family was forever tied to the political upheaval in Haiti, and though they were forced in exile and subsequently returned to Haiti, they ultimately evolved to find a non-partisan stance that reflected the people, rather than a political ideology or leader.

As a teen, Paul was playing ball in Port-au-Prince and heard his mother on the radio, calling out to warn him of danger at their door. With the help of a friend he fled and made his way to New York. Here he honed his craft, but most importantly he carried his Haitian perspective forward – eager to learn, fascinated by the city swirling around him, Paul stepped forward with positive energy and embraced all things.

The movement of Africans to the western hemisphere was forced, and the music was often removed from the people. But the spirit was never lost, and soon the music was advancing the path – from Haiti to New Orleans, from New Orleans to Chicago and New York, from the US to London - African influences spread and mixed with local culture to create new forms and genres. Over time the power of this force revealed itself in new ways as these genres circled back to the islands and again formed new styles: Reggae and Mizik Rasin. Like Reggae, mizik rasin is old culture blended with new, imported sound. As the blues hit Haiti in the form of Rock music, Boukman Eksperyans advanced this new, blended sound. And now, Paul Beaubrun brings his perspective and carries the music back out to the world with ease – collaborating at every turn to learn new things, but also to connect through love and music. His positive view of humanity as a shining light is infectious, we all know it to be true despite the pain of history. We all need to believe, and Paul is a great ambassador of our hopes and dreams.


And so the music moves from the source to the people - the music is the language of natural human condition channeled to those who have a distorted view, to save them from their misconceptions. The greatest messengers know that they are simply messengers - unlike western idolization of talent - they realize the source is within them and without, and they seek the source and cast their particular style to translate the message for the masses.

Paul Beaubrun knows these things - he seeks to conquer the world with gentleness, with music. There is little need to dissect the message or the music - it is simple and it is indisputable. This is a human carrying the message of peace and beauty. The best way to describe this wondrous process is with the word Blessings – which is naturally the title of Paul’s album - Ayibobo

New Label | Uprising Music NYC

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It is with the utmost respect and honor that we welcome a new record label to the Ropeadope family: Uprising Music is a new model label and artist management company that carries forward the pioneering spirit of Mr. Eddie Palmieri. Uprising Music seeks to cross cultural boundaries and blend styles as a bridge between communities from diverse backgrounds; transmitting traditions through generational evolution. Uprising’s artists come from diverse backgrounds, deeply rooted in the musical culture of the Caribbean and New York City. Urban sounds including jazz, hip-hop, funk and Afro-Caribbean genres are key ingredients in the DNA of these artists, and one can expect recordings and live performances to reflect that diversity, while pushing forward to new collaborations and styles. The Uprising Music team includes Eddie Palmieri II, Zoilo R. Torres, and Frank Abenante. 

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The first release from Uprising will be the new album from the vibrant Flamenco and Jazz pianist Alex Conde. Titled Origins, the album clearly embodies the mission of Uprising, and includes members of the family including Conrad Herwig, Marcus Gilmore, Dayna Stephens, Brian Lynch, Luques Curtis, Ismael Fernandez and Guillermo Barron among others. Preorders start tomorrow, with the release date set for May 11, 2018. 

Introducing: Yeni Nostalji

Born in Roanoke Virginia, Christina Marie Gleixner is an artist with a curious mind. It would seem simple: grow up with a passion for music, go to school and follow in the footsteps of thousands by writing and performing the music of the day. And yet that’s not the path that Christina took. Upon hearing a track from late Turkish singer Tanju Okan, Christina was so taken with the music that she decided she would sing in Turkish. The lyrics spoke of being so drunk one would forget that their love ever existed, and somehow it unlocked a strong creative space.

‘it (the music) felt very familiar to me, but I also felt that I could access a part of myself that was unfamiliar and magical, something that could be new and challenging. I wanted to be able to interpret my emotions through a new lens

And so a vision was formed. With a love of Western folk and pop music, and a nostalgic eye on the musical history of Turkey, Christina Marie set out on a singular mission. Something only she could see, brought to fruition through hard work and collaboration. Christina began learning the language and writing the lyrics as poetry, building the songs around the words. The result is the self-titled album from Yeni Nostalji: a beautiful and sublime blend of cultures and sounds. One could call this world music, but that label would not support the full vision. This is best experienced by simply listening. Christina’s vocals are as thoughtful as the project itself – like deep water on a dark night, and the band fills in behind her in careful precision, complete with polished decoration of sound.

Bandleader Christina Marie cites her songwriting influences as “Leonard Cohen, Morrissey, and Dolly Parton” but is heavily influenced by the vintage soundscape of Turkish and European pop radio from the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. The band features Moldovan-born guitarist and composer Vlad Cuiujuclu, guitarist and arranger Gary Kalar, and Turkish rhythm section Ayça Kartari (bass) and Emre Kartari (drums). Yeni Nostalji’s sound is often described as a mashup of 60’s French pop, Bossa Nova, and modern indie pop ballads.

New Music | Chance Hayden

Guitarist, composer, arranger and producer Chance Hayden has worked with many including Darrell Grant, Farnell Newton, Andy Stokes, Lindsey Webster, Maimouna Youssef and Mycle Wastman. He has attracted international attention touring with Jarrod Lawson, including the North Sea Jazz Festival, Japan’s Billboard Live and an exclusive birthday celebration for Stevie Wonder. His music has been chosen for the BET television series Being Mary Jane and Sony Pictures #1 box office film The Perfect Guy. Hayden is the producer of The Peace House Sessions, an ongoing video series featuring the likes of Mark Lettieri and Liz Warfield. And now, Chance brings his new album, get somethin', via Atlanta Records. dig in and get somethin' hip.

Featured Artist | Laura Taglialatella

From Naples Italy, Vocalist and composer Laura Taglialatella began performing in church, influenced by Black music and intent on experiencing the world. Her path took her to University (and private study with Jazz masters), where she developed her thesis - A Unifying Language: Jazz. Laura's debut album - The Glow - show Laura in the process of self acknowledgement, while exploring the space between genres and the spontaneous interactions that ensue. The Glow was recorded in two days, and features Dayna Stephens on Ewi and tenor Sax, Domenica Sanna on Piano and Rhodes, Matteo Bortone on Bass, Francesco Ciniglio on Drums, and a special guest appearance from Logan Richardson on Alto Sax. Expect a subtle flow, with introspective style and sometimes carefully punctuated vocals in both English and Italian. Order The Glow via Atlanta Records at this link.

 

Richard X Bennett + HUW

What happens when two kindred souls connect while carefully considering their place on Earth and creating music that speaks to their personal story? ART. Richard X Bennett reflects on life and its counterpart on his new album Away From The Many, and while the music is a way of reaching out to the world, Richard took it further by connecting with Aaron Dolton of HUW. The result is the beginning of a new musical journey, and we are proud to present the first track today - Transparent Frame Remix - a meditation on our situation and our salvation that leaves you feeling the full motion of our spinning globe.