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.
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 tight groove. Release date is October 13, and preorders are open now. Enjoy the love and light.
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.”
‘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.
Based in Paris, The Kandinsky Effect is drummer Caleb Dollister, bassist Gael Petrina, and saxophonist Warren Walker. For ten years the band has been touring the world, refining their approach to composition and performance. Dollister'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.
Raised in Montreal and transplanted to New York, Saxophonist Chet Doxas is quickly becoming one of the most well respected and sought after saxophonists and composers of his generation. His band, Rich In Symbols, is an ensemble whose repertoire is informed by Chet's love of the visual arts. His new album with the same name is inspired by the NYC art movement of the late seventies and early eighties, and asks the question 'what do paintings sound like'? The band is Matthew Stevens (guitar), Zack Lober (bass), Eric Doob (drums) - with special guests John Escreet on piano, multi-award winning trumpeter Dave Douglas and guitarist Dave Nugent. Release date is September 8 worldwide.
We've finally decided to set up that Facebook group for the extended Ropeadope family to commune. Stop in, share your Ropeadope stories, pictures, and videos, and stay up to date with the label and your fellow music lovers. We'll be dropping some gems from the archives, with special offers and unreleased tracks and videos. The Ropeadope staff and most of our artists are in the room, so it's a good spot to stay in touch. We look forward to connecting with you!
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah continues to present his musical vision to the world, and we are pleased to announce his new label - Stretch Music - within the Ropeadope network of labels. Starting things off will be the new album from Sarah Elizabeth Charles and her band, SCOPE. The third studio album from Sarah is entitled Free Of Form, and includes veteran band members Jesse Elder (keys), Burniss Earl Travis II (bass), John Davis (drums), with Christian Scott as special guest and co-producer. Free Of Form is set for release on October 6, and is available for pre-order right here.
We've always had a thing for the uniquely Japanese music that Takashi Tsuzuki creates. It started in 2010 with Monophonic Multiphonic, and continued with two releases in 2014 - From Tokyo and From Japan. Takashi builds electronic soundscapes, yet over time we have seen cross cultural influences inform his sense of melody. In 2016 we had the good fortune to be able to connect him with Tomoko Nagashima - known as NIA - and we now have the result of that collaboration. It's Not Fair is Takashi's latest, set for September 1 release and it features this intriguing track with NIA on vocals. Connection across space, time, and genre is what we live for. Dig in.
Yusef Komunyakaa is a recipient of the 1994 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, for Neon Vernacular and the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Born in Bogalusa Louisiana, he found his art form in the church: “the sound of the Old Testament informed the cadences of their speech,” Komunyakaa has stated. “It was my first introduction to poetry.” Komunyakaa served in the US Army in Vietnam as a correspondent, which informs much of his writing. His powerful voice demands attention, and his poetry presents very personal narratives with the rhythm of a slow Jazz solo. So it is no surprise that Komunyakaa connected with New York musicians Mike Brown and David Cieri. David was working with Trent Reznor and Yo-Yo Ma on the film score for Ken Burns' new Vietnam documentary, and kept Komunyakaa's book Dien Cai Dau as a source of insight and inspiration. The opportunity arose for the three to perform together at The Gavagai Music and Reading series and a deep relationship was revealed.
White Dust by Yusef Komunyakaa, David Cieri, and Mike Brown is the full recording of three Jazz players exploring the art: each using their instrument to reflect, express, to set a mood and dig inside the human condition. The vocalist is the poet, sometimes carrying the rhythm, sometimes the solo, always speaking to us. Stay Tuned.
Jim Stephens is the kind of guy you can’t size up. Upbeat with a classic Irish smile, with a little bit of mischief and at least as much heartbreak in his eyes. Salt of the earth with a good amount of spice, Jim Stephens is anachronistic, hearkening back to a time of real men and real grit. Or maybe he’s one of the real seeds that we look to when our transparent copies of life are wearing thin. Or maybe it’s all still real – the heartbreak, the saloons, the gritty life on the street, the dust bowl of humanity that we all miss while we’re busy daydreaming inside the matrix.
And so, it is Jim Stephens that purposefully takes us back to the core with his upcoming release, Boxcar Blues. Deliberately acoustic, deliberately lo-fi, Jimmy wanted to capture the raw feel of the old days with the simple purpose of pointing out that they still exist under the polish and sheen. When asked about the recording, Jimmy says is best:
'It is the foundation, the content, the art form, the desperation, the darkness, the honesty, the root of that all American music has stemmed from. So am I saying that I made a 1940's chitlin’ circuit record in 2017 …? Well, maybe I am. And maybe that is needed today. In style, content, education, and the literal for folks looking in the mirror of the human condition addressing suicide, abuse, addiction, and fear of themselves, and others leaving this world alone and dumped into a state-run Paupers grave.'
There is a certain jarring feeling when you first listen to Boxcar Blues, as if the mind and body are trying to avoid an uncomfortable truth. Like all great music, a few more listens reveal the beauty within. One can reference Son House, Skip James, Blind Willie McTell, Townes Van Zandt, or even early Beck. We encourage you to take it for a spin and let the honesty of this record breathe in your ears and in your mind.
The always divine and positive Ms. Chantae Cann first graced us with her delightful performance of Free Your Dreams on Snarky Puppy's Family Dinner Vol 1. The followup was equally inspiring as she released Journey To Golden on Atlanta Records. Here we are in 2017 and Chantae has been busy in the studio preparing for a fall release of her next studio album. In the meantime, get ready for Journey To Golden - The Re-Werc: A full album remix project headed up by the WERC crew in Atlanta. Anthem (Miami), DJIN (of In Good Company, NY), The Westwindz (Georgia) and Trap House Jazz artist Masego fused Chantae’s contemporary Jazz vocals alongside a progressive electronic backdrop. Journey To Golden RE-WERC hits everywhere on August 11.
LA PINGO´S ORQUESTA is a World Music and Mexican Jazz band formed in 2012 on Aguascalientes, México. It was common to see them playing in squares and sidewalks of the Historic Center, experimenting with different sounds: classical percussion, chamber music, argentine tango, balkan music, rock, manouche jazz, swing, latin american folklore and traditional Mexican music. For their second album they hit the studio with Todd Clouser in the producer's role, and now Peregrino is ready for release via Ropeadope Sur.
La Pingo's has been presenting educational conferences for children, and have given several benefit concerts for orphanages and prisons. They are diverse and REAL, true citizens of the Earth. Drop in and hear the world fusion of La Pingo's Orquestra!
From Kuf Knotz to The Flowdown to Escaper, Adam Ahuja is a Ropeadope regular. Now he's making moves as he begins his new 'label' - Infinity Gritty. More than just a label, Infinity Gritty is a music community, think-tank, and consultancy with an eclectic spirit. it looks and feels like a NEW idea, and these are the times when new ideas are needed and embraced. Infinity means forever and gritty means 'with courage and resolve', and we are proud to support such a noble vision. The first release is cued up for this Friday - a solid banger from E. Scott Lindner. Lindner is an engineer, producer, and guitarist from NY who states that he draws influences from Jazz and Krautrock. His compositions lean on repetitive polyrhythms as a bed for searching melodies and sonic textures. We dig the sound.
(U)nity began as the musical project of five musicians from different corners of the world, but it stopped being a band a long time ago. It has morphed into an ideal, a collective, a movement, of like-minded artists that bring their heritage, expertise, and wisdom to create a sonic euphoria. The core: Michael Valeanu, Axel Tosca Laugart, Chris Smith, Max Cudworth and Amaury Acosta have created an unlikely collaboration, ranging from a multitude of cultural backgrounds: Paris, Havana, Minneapolis, Providence and NYC. In their mission of fusing Afro Cuban culture with modern jazz, soul, hip-hop and gospel they’ve sacrificed neither virtuosity nor groove.
And now, (U)nity Is Power is set for release this Friday, July 28. The 14 track manifesto features bass hero Pino Palladino, Cuban percussionist and vocalist Pedrito Martinez, multi-instrumentalist Devonne Harris (AKA DJ Harrison), vocalists Jonathan Hoard, Lauren Denberg, flutist Elena Pinderhughes, and bassists Luques Curtis, Dj Ginyard, Joshua Crumbly, and more.
His mother performed with the Supremes. His father is a well known Saxophonist and writer. Both were original members of Stevie Wonder’s Wonderland band. Yes, that Stevie Wonder band. His grandfather, Ira Tucker Sr. is credited as a forefather of Gospel music as a member of the Dixie Hummingbirds. His Aunt Sundray Tucker sang with Stevie Wonder and Patti LaBelle.
In his first year of High School Trevor was called for a recording session to play drums on the original theme song on the Pilot episode of a show called Martin and right then he decided that his life would be in recording. Fast forward to 2017 and you’ll find some 73 recording credits in his discography including Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Snoop, Quincy, Alicia Keys, LeAnn Rimes, Kendrick Lamar, Stevie Wonder, Eminem, and Dr. Dre. Trevor Lawrence Jr. is on call for some of the biggest names, and still hits the road as a player with Herbie Hancock, LeAnn Rimes, and more. Trevor is the hard hitting drummer with Terrace Martin’s new group, The Pollyseeds, whose recent debut single topped 900K plays on soundcloud in its first few days.
These are prolific times for music creation and production, both in and out of the mainstream music world. Trevor Lawrence Jr, like so many of the artists that find their way to Ropeadope, has gone deep into his experience and his family of talented friends to create Relationships, his first solo record. Clearly bringing together the variety of people he has worked with, Relationships is a wide ranging record, seamlessly connected by a seasoned producer. Featured players include Terrace Martin, Kenneth Crouch, Nicholas Payton, Maurice Brown, LeAnn Rimes, Kamasi Washington, and Nico Segal (Donnie Trumpet). This is the world according to Trevor Lawrence Jr, and it shines with diversity and depth.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we bring you Relationships from Trevor Lawrence Jr. - Drum Roll Please…
At the corner of Crenshaw and Slauson there is a massive hole in the ground. The expression on the street is ‘You can look down until you can’t look no more’. The power of the earth is revealed, as is the history of this anchor neighborhood in the cultural history of LA. Unlike the famous Lafayette Square, also designed by George Crenshaw, this part of LA does not claim the title of the wealthiest area in the city. Crenshaw Blvd is best known as the commercial spine of Black and Latino Los Angeles, as well as a transitional home for displaced middle class Japanese Americans after WW2. While it begins and ends in wealth, the other parts of Crenshaw Blvd are where the action was, with spots like the classic Maverick’s Flat – the Apollo Of The West - where featured acts like Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Ike and Tina Turner, and Parliament played. This is the place where low riders would cruise, immortalized in songs and videos by west coast rappers. You can draw a parallel with Harlem River Drive here, but Crenshaw is solid Los Angeles.
One can argue that THIS is the lifeblood of America – that it carries the pulse of a multi-cultural nation in a more authentic way than the official promenades of Washington DC. But there can be no argument that THIS is where the soul resides. The creativity, the street culture, the real stories of struggle and defiant joy – all are found here in a land of eternal sun and concrete.
And now, in 2017, there is a giant hole in Crenshaw Boulevard. Powerful energy makes itself present, as everyone knows the neighborhood will never look the same. A profound sense of history demands to be respected, and now presented to the world for preservation in our collective understanding. Now is the time to dig through the memories, the music, and carry them forward like diamonds from the mine.
The Pollyseeds are a collaborative group of A-List producers, musicians, and creators who have found great success in the world, yet understand the source from which their creativity and success flows. After many years of celebrity driven music, The Pollyseeds come together inside the SONGS. The songs that speak of history, of life, of love, of soul. The songs that carry our common interest; songs of Saturday nights looking for love, songs that carry the heat of the street right into Sunday evening. The Pollyseeds pay heed to TSOP, The Funk Brothers, and The Wrecking Crew, as well as early Steely Dan. The Pollyseeds are making the records that those artists never did, because they live in a time where it is possible.
Sounds Of Crenshaw Volume 1 is produced by Terrace Martin. As a producer and musician, Terrace Martin understands the pieces of history that MATTER. And he knows the true value of Crenshaw and Slauson in his own evolution and its importance to the world. On Volume 1, he brings together some of The Pollyseeds and distills the seemingly disparate pieces of that history into an instantly recognizable sound. ‘That West Coast Vibe’ is eminent. A great luthier once said ‘It’s simple, I just take a piece of wood and cut away everything that isn’t a guitar’. The Pollyseeds have done just that. Sounds Of Crenshaw Volume 1 is that record that trims the celebrity and the excess, and makes a very clear and simple statement with the sound.
Let us hope that whatever gets built on Crenshaw carries the history forward with as much integrity and beauty as The Pollyseeds.
'The Pollyseeds is a creative platform curated by my long time friend Terrace Martin. it allows each of us to come together musically with the sole goal of reflecting our experience in life through the gift of music and allowing us a voice to express the real truth of the world through our eyes in an unfiltered process that ultimately culminates in each Record. As a Pollyseed we must be selfless and a slave to the voice of the art, which many times may not even be our own.' (Pollyseed Brandon Eugene Owens)
'To honestly express yourself at a high level while paying homage, yet being current and innovating the times..is the Pollyseeds. So honored to be a part of the journey!' (Pollyseed Robert Glasper)
The band is about progression. Never becoming comfortable. Always growing. And always pushing the envelope. Intentions is my favorite: Intentions is legend. Intention is every sense of time to me. It's so much flavor. And that's my whole m.o. Just amazing.' (Pollyseed Rose Gold)
The Pollyseeds is the brainchild of Terrace Martin. It comprises a unique assortment of T's talented homiez, including songwriters/vocalists (Chachi aka Problem, Rose Gold, Wyann Vaughn, Preston Harris, et al.) and musicians (Trevor Lawrence, Brandon Owens, Marlon Williams). We each have very different styles and, as a unit, we paint audible pictures in technicolor. The Pollyseeds is sexy and sultry, dynamic and gangsta, funky and musical. Due to our widespread sound, I feel, as a group, we're unmatched. (Pollyseed Wyann Vaughn)
Arthur Vint is back, with spurs on once again, and this time he's taking on the baddest of them all. His next release - Death Rides A Horse - explores the music of composer Ennio Morricone. Morricone's music is embedded in the American consciousness from the soundtracks to spaghetti westerns like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. The folklore spreads through generations as we continue to immortalize characters from Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. But the music, it speaks of a mysterious place and time in the western desert - a time when America had courage and hope. Death Rides A Horse is the antithesis of the latest hit single - it is a thoughtful meditation that must be played through. The band is stellar - Arthur Vint (drums), Ian Stapp (bass), Jon Cowherd (piano, organ) Tony Scherr (electric guitar), Roy Williams (acoustic guitar), Andrew Halchak (bass clarinet, clarinet, flute), Rich Perry (tenor sax), Blanca Cecilia González (violin), Yvonnick Prene (harmonica)
Drop in here for the goods.