2019 Countdown | Chapter 2 | Mark de Clive-Lowe

In a global world of migration and change it is essential that we pay close attention to and honor all cultures. We all have our own stories to discover and tell; in the case of composer and pianist Mark de Clive-Lowe the story was of Japan. His maternal roots are there, and in his impeccable manner Mark delivered a two part musical exploration and tribute to his mother’s homeland. Revealed in early February 2019, Heritage I took us on a journey through Japanese history and culture culture through de Ciive-Lowe’s particular blend of Jazz, Electronics, and Hip-Hop.

“Heritage is the idea of transmitting from the past to the future - knowing more about who we are and where we’re going by understanding where we come from. It’s about identity and one’s place in the world,”

Recorded mostly live, with a day in the studio for added effect, Heritage I is broad and yet deeply intimate, as we feel the composer searching for and reflecting on his roots. The inevitable result is a broadening of our understanding of Mark's unique cultural heritage, and a turning inward to discover our own.

Photo: Renae Wooton

Photo: Renae Wooton

2019 Countdown | Chapter 1 | Anu Sun

Producer, songwriter and engineer Anu Sun is well known for his work with Robert Glasper, from Black Radio 2 to the film Miles Ahead. On February 8, 2019, he released Sanguine Regum, which translates to Blood Of Kings:

‘I had a message to deliver, a perspective to convey, a sore I wanted to rip the scab off of. Our story is one of tenacity, a regal story that spans far beyond the slave experience and the target that’s been placed upon our foreheads.’

With tracks like Prey, Rise!, and Kaeptain AmeriKKKa, Anu Sun delivers a reckoning to the American public - this is a nation built on the backs of slaves, and the time is now for ALL of us to acknowledge not just this fact, but to recall and celebrate the Kings and Queens of African culture that we live among. By presenting these connected points, Anu Sun continues the process of correcting the historical narrative. All of this is intertwined with deliberate groove and production sensibilities that enhance the message and the music.

“Its progressive adult contemporary - the maturation of Hip-Hop and jazz. “If we are making honest Hip-Hop for our generation, then I think this is where we should be,


2019 Countdown | A Ropeadope Story

2019 was, is, and will be remembered as a pivotal year on planet Earth, a time when we could no longer dodge the truth. Climate change, obtuse populism, continued racism and assault on African American youth, open discussion of abuse of women; each of these issues boiled over into global consciousness as the closet doors swung wide open. A host of righteous ambassadors emerged on all fronts - writers, courageous women who told their stories, teen climate activists, young politicians challenging the status quo, athletes, and of course musicians.

So let us tell you a little (big) story as we reflect on the music emanating from our community of musicians. This is a story of humanity wrestling with itself, a story of reckoning with the truth of our deeds, our actions, and our intent. This is a story of artists painting a picture of the past, the present, and the future. This is the story of the global Ropeadope family.

Look for 2 stories each day right here. Chapter 1 hits tomorrow at 3 AM EST.

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New Music | Darnell Little

In a world of Hip-Hop oversaturated with trap beats and club bangers, it is a breath of fresh ocean air when we find a gem hidden amongst the rubble; a sound we may have forgotten existed in Hip-Hop. Enter Darnell Little from Camden, New Jersey, who proves his full understanding of the genre’s roots. 

With this foundation, Little’s music is also described as experimental and unorthodox, heavily influenced by the trials and tribulations of his life. His delivery is laid back, soulful, and therefore powerful. Darnell was a nominee for the Most Likely to Succeed Award at the Camden Underground Music Awards. Hehas performed at SXSW and has been featured on key outlets  "ThisIs50", WatchLOUD", YouHeardThatNew", "RapReviews" and more.

Ropeadope discovered Darnell on a random trip through Soundcloud, where he had taken some classics from Dilla and others and turned them to his own unique style. An idea was born - dig deep in the Ropeadope catalog and build something entirely new with full creative license. The result is Ropeadope:FLIPPED - 12 tracks of real experience intertwined with select tracks from the catalog. A return to old school values, with a fresh and informed new style.

new music | Lulu Fall

Songwriter, singer, and actor Lulu Fall is of Senegalese and Cameroonian parentage, and her music reflects her global perspective by way of her American sensibilities. A formally trained jazz vocalist with a musical theater background, Lulu brings a unique visual and dramatic style to her music while centering her songs in American R & B tradition. Lulu was a performer in the Smithsonian’s American Songbook Program, and ensemble member in Studio Theatre’s adaptation of Passing Strange. She was also a featured ensemble member in the acclaimed hippie love-rock musical HAIR. Lulu holds a degree in Jazz studies, and it shows in her composing and performing style. Her new album is appropriately titled Between Two Worlds, with the title track boldly claiming her African heritage. The album has a strong, rhythmic groove, delivered with a vocal edge that connects deeply with our own sense of anxiety about the world around us; and yet Lulu transforms the angst with sustained, soaring vocals that speak of beauty to be found. Between Two Worlds hits on November 8,

new music | ego mondo

Drummer Gary Novak's influence came from his parents. His mother, pianist Carol Novak, played with her trio at the London House. His father, Larry Novak, the famous Chicago pianist, not only encouraged the career of his son but also put him to work. His credits read like a who’s who - from George Benson to Alanis Morrissette, from Lee Ritenopur to Alan Holdsworth. 

Keyboardist and producer Scott Kinsey is a world-class improviser and music conceptualist. Widely known as one of the most capable jazz synthesists of his generation, Kinsey’s unique and original sounds continue to rapidly evolve. Scott has been privileged to work with many of the world’s great musicians, a growing list which speaks volumes.

Bassist Tim Lefebvre has amassed a reputation for being one of the world’s most innovative bassists. The Foxboro-native’s creative playing style is an addictive blend of jazz improvisation, rock undertones, and electronic grooves that can be heard on his appearances on over 150 recordings, ranging from Grammy award-winning albums such as David Bowie’s Blackstar to the soundtracks of classic films such as The Departed. From 2013 to 2018, Lefebvre was the bassist of the dynamic blues rock ensemble Tedeschi Trucks Band.

Ego Mondo is a group effort of these three seasoned and spirited musicians from various roots and influence. Gary Novak, Tim Lefebvre and Scott Kinsey started a weekly gathering to record improvised music. After a few sessions an identity appeared that carried a wide spectrum of influence from early hip hop, punk, EDM and jazz. The addition of Featured Guest vocalist Kokayi brought the perfect element of intellect, intrigue and content to the band. Other guest performances by Jason Lindner, Mike Landau, Rachel Eckroth and Troy Zeigler

Ego Mondo is set to release End Of Daze on November 15, 2019. It takes about three seconds to get excited about the music; the opening track is fraught with anticipation and nervous, joyful energy as Kokayi channels some sort of supernatural energy. End Of Daze then proceeds to cover a lot of ground in seven tracks; eerie landscapes behind powerful haunting vocals, subterranean longing vocals from special guest Rachel Eckroth, humorous party vibes, and cutting social commentary. All with the feel that this is 100% Ego Mondo.

new music | carmen sandim

From piano lessons as a little girl in Brazil, to composing for her jazz septet in Denver, Carmen Sandim has found in music her lifetime adventure and purpose. Over the past few decades Carmen’s eclectic musical interests and aesthetics have drawn her in many directions: classical piano studies, jazz composition and performance, film scoring, and a long-lasting commitment to improvised music pedagogy. After a break following her debut album, Carmen returns with her second album, Play Doh, once again enlisting her mentor, Art Lande, as producer for a book of expressive and intricate compositions ranging from quartet to nonet. The album features Sandim on piano alongside top-tier players Shane Endsley (trumpet), Bruce Williamson (reeds), Alex Heitlinger (trombone), Khabu Doug Young (guitar), Bill McCrossen (bass) and Dru Heller (drums); as well as special guests Bill Kopper (acoustic guitar) and Raoul Rossiter (percussion).

Play Doh is scheduled to be released on October 25th, with pre-orders starting this Friday.

new music | J hoard


We’ve had the great pleasure of meeting J. Hoard and hearing his work with Javier Santiago, (U)nity, and Grüt, and now we are thrilled to announce the arrival of his solo debut with Follow Me (Thru the Past) set for release on October 25th. But first, a taste for all with the first single Up & Down coming to your ears this Friday. Here’s a bit about the man:

NYC based artist, J. Hoard, is a new stitch to the essential fabric of the city’s music scene. In one performance you are given the core of the Black church and allure of “The Great White Way” (Broadway). His original compositions and arrangements easily shift in genre to communicate his unlimited imagination in songwriting. His credits include Chance the Rapper, Brasstracks, and hip­hop royalty Jean Grae & Quelle Chris. Additionally, he has worked closely with a host of jazz/experimental artists such as Sonnymoon, Javier Santiago, and Meshell Ndegeocello.

New Music | Horné Electric Band

if you caught the accent on the E, you can already tell this band is out for fun. Self described as an electro-funk group generating a buzz for their infectious beat and whimsical musical personality, the band is made up of talented players from the scene. A collaborative outgrowth of vibraphonist Tyler Blanton’s work on the malletkat and midi electronics, the group’s core consists of bassist/producer Massimo Biolcati and drummer Corey Rawls. The steady horn section consists of Wayne Tucker, Yacine Boulares, as well as the Snarky Puppy horn team of Mike Maher and Chris Bullock. The Horne Electric Band’s debut record is scheduled for release on September 27 on Ropeadope and features guest artist appearances by saxophonists Chris Potter, John Ellis, and Donny McCaslin, as well as guitarists Lionel Loueke and John Scofield.

Get ready to shake off the daily news blues and dance until regime change happens. That’s what we’re doing at the fake office.

new music | kaveh rastegar

Who is Kaveh Rastegar? It depends on whom you ask. The general public might know him best as the bassist for John Legend, or as the musical director for Sia or producer and songwriter with artists like Bruno Mars, Sabrina Claudio, Ciara, De La Soul and Meshell Ndegeocello. Jazz heads know him as the low-end anchor for the Grammy-nominated group Kneebody. Yet everyone who has continued to follow Kaveh are now starting to know him as a singer-songwriter with the release of Haunted This Way, a follow-up to his debut solo album, Light of Love. This new album confirms Kaveh’s success in converting his multi-faceted abilities and his deep reservoir of musical experience into new, rock-based creative music made compelling though disciplined thematic and lyrical focus, decorated with kaleidoscopic brilliance by the excellent cast of musicians he summoned from jazz, pop, rock, country, and every other corner of the wide musical tapestry he has traversed.

Even though Haunted This Way is the later release, it was written and recorded before Light of Love, documenting the bassist’s initial serious foray into songwriting. “These songs came about over a long period of time,” says Kaveh. “I had written the music for these songs around the summer of 2011. At this point, all I had was sketches for the songs—chords and melodies.” The songs started to take shape during the initial recording sessions, with drummer Jay Bellerose and guitarist Tim Young. The lyrics came gradually, with help from songwriters Adam Levy and Amy Kuney. “I was really grateful to work with Amy and Adam,” states Kaveh. “They are incredible musicians and songwriters and I love collaborating with them.” Kaveh credits them with helping him to become a better writer. “They helped me,” he continues, “to move out of that ‘one way to write a song mindset,” something he was told to avoid by the rapper Posdnous from De La Soul. Kaveh affirms he has “written with a lot of different artists and would always ask them what their process was,” a process we see coming to fruition in Haunted This Way. (Gary Fukushima)

new music | Bluke

The more things change, the more they stay the same. We live in a fascinating time for music, where global connection brings a tidal wave of diversity to the human collection of recorded music. And yet, with all the diversity one can turn on the radio and find that everything sounds the same. It’s simple flow - most people find themselves following the status quo, going with the crowd to avoid taking the unique path. Inevitably they lose their context and find themselves in a place of homogeneity with no idea how they arrived there.

Enter BLUKE - the odd couple, the dynamic duo, the thinkers in the game. Two men whose understanding span the arc of music history in a concise time - namely the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Students of old school Hip-Hop, Go-Go music, soul and funk, Blurum13 and Luke Vibert carefully acquire the music of this time, poring over it for historical context and sifting through for the gems. Vibert is that cat hanging around the record store, piling up a stack of albums and 45s that you’ve never heard of. Blurum13 is his vocal counterpart, with a voice that sits exactly outside of any range you’ve heard.

Together these two casually ignore the masses and their direction, rooting themselves in a funky, swinging, carefree yet purposeful beat. Somehow they manage to stay completely in the golden days of Hip-Hop without sounding like anyone else - historically correct but as fresh as this week’s hot single. After dusting off their shelved first project, Smell The Urgency, the pair returned in 2019 with Sense The Urgency, complete with dynamic street art that reveals the combination of street style, swagger, and just plain groove that lies in the recording.

True to both artists’ extensive experience and discography, Sense The Urgency showcases the depth of talent unique to each. The album is replete with expert sample-stitching, like the vintage video game sounds on Omnipotent or the whistling banjo duet on Happy Daze. From the chunky 70s bass lines of Gimme a Sign, to the rapid-fire scratches and litanies of Something Fresh (ft. DJ SPS), to the lazy quirk of Turninitup, BluRum and Vibert trap and entrance our senses, raising and respecting our consciousness along the way. Tempos rise and fall with precision, Blu flexes hard on shiners like Grind, with Vibert’s expert production laying a soaring foundation for Blu’s lightning-yet-laidback rhymes that you have to listen to again and again to fully extract their multilayered meaning. Most wonderfully, Vibert sets his whimsical side free again, giving BluRum the room to write Couldabin, a love song for lovers of artists, and even leave us with the sweet summer banger Slide By. As per the imperative of Machine Gums, with Sense The Urgency BLUKE leaves a legacy unmatched in Hip-Hop to date.

new music | brad farberman

In the summer of 2002, when I was 17, I went to see Medeski Martin & Wood two nights in a row at Tonic. The shows were almost entirely improvised; they played just a handful of composed tunes each night. And that concept, that you could just climb onstage and pull an entire evening of sound from thin air, completely changed my life. Before those shows, I didn’t know that was possible. MMW were already one of my favorite bands, but now they had given me more than just incredible music; they had turned my whole world around. A new pathway was open. 

Fast-forward about fifteen years. I’m a “real” musician. My band, Middle Blue, throws down a sort of avant-garde funk. MMW is deep in the DNA of the music. And I also play freely improvised music, with musicians including the legendary horn man Daniel Carter. Inspiration hits, and I start thinking about a session featuring myself, Billy, and Daniel. I also realize that Billy and Daniel have recorded together before; they’re on a track off DJ Logic’s 1999 album Project Logic. Yeah, you heard me: The very first album on Ropeadope. That’s some deep Ropeadope history right there. 

So here we are, full circle in a couple of ways. This is my first album of free-improv, a genre I learned about from MMW. And Billy and Daniel are back together on Ropeadope, just in time for the label’s twentieth anniversary. Big thanks to the universe. Thanks for letting me be a part of it all. 

Oh, one more thing: This is the very first time we played together. The first jam of the day. And I didn’t change a note.  - Bradley Stuart Farberman

New Music | Ramsey Lewis

NEA JazzMaster Ramsey Lewis is a living legend; it is impossible to imagine today’s landscape of Jazz, funk, and R&B without his contribution. From gold records in the sixties to Grammy awards, Ramsey Lewis has always been a collaborator, working with many including Grover Washington Jr, Maurice White & Earth, Wind, and Fire, Dr. Billy Taylor, Dr. John, and The London Philharmonic. His classic band Urban Knights includes guitarist Henry Johnson, drummer Charles Heath, bassist Joshua Ramos and keyboardist Tim Gant, and they have released six albums that kept the sound and spirit of funk and R&B alive. And now we are thrilled to announce the next - VII by Ramsey Lewis and Urban Knights - will be set for release in the fall of 2019. Original compositions are interspersed with carefully selected classics from John Coltrane, Jimmy Reed, Chick Corea, and The Beatles. Drop in here to follow and get the news on preorder and release dates.

new music | Yazz Ahmed

As challenging as these times are on planet earth, it is with great wonder and comfort that we are witnessing the emergence of great leaders with vision; individuals who are reinventing Jazz while also becoming role models for others as they express their worldview through their art. Composer, trumpeter, and flugelhorn player Yazz Ahmed has performed with Radiohead and The New Puritans. Her second album, La Saboteuse, featured Shabaka Hutchings and Naadia Sheriff and was hailed by critics and fans alike.

Yazz was born in London to a British ballerina mother and Bahraini engineer father, with the family moving to Bahrain soon afterwards. When she was nine, Ahmed and her sisters returned to London with their mother. Her maternal grandfather, Terry Brown, was a jazz trumpeter and record producer in the 50s, and when Ahmed was given the choice of taking up an instrument at her new school, she chose the trumpet.

Her third album, Polyhymnia, will be released in October 2019, and while Yazz continues to blend Jazz with traditional Arabic rhythms and melodies, she brings her message with the music. Polyhymnia is a celebration of female courage and determination. It is a suite of six compositions, each dedicated to women of outstanding qualities, whom Yazz finds to be inspirational role models. We welcome this powerful and important statement as we work towards a world of equality.

New Music | Casimir Liberski

Pack your bags, it’s time to depart on a musical journey through parts unknown. Pianist and composer Casimir Liberski hails from Brussels; trained in classical music, Liberski digs deep into the canon of western Jazz, Blues, and Funk while retaining a love for … wait for it … melodies from Nintendo games! These are the times of unbridled musical expression, and Casimir takes the challenge without hesitation. This is as much a dimly lit Jazz club as it is late night festival, and Casimir brings it all together as if we are in the symphony hall the whole time, all with a sense of participation as if we were composing the music with him. His Ropeadope debut Cosmic Liberty hits on September 20, preorder and first streaming track are here.

new music | javier santiago

His 2018 debut album Phoenix featured a stellar cast of musicians and guests including trumpet legend Nicholas Payton, rising star Jonathan Hoard and guitar heavyweight Nir Felder, and was heralded by Jazz press and heavily featured at Bandcamp. Now, Javier follows up with a more modest acoustic instrumentation consisting of more traditional instruments like acoustic piano, upright bass and drum set. 

The core band consisting of Ben Flocks and Dayna Stephens on saxophones, Corey Fonville on drums, Nir Felder on guitar and Zach Brown on bass recorded at the now defunct Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA in September of 2016. From there Santiago released eight of the tracks on Phoenix in June of 2018 - leaving several gems left over for a potential future release. 

Santiago explains, “These compositions that didn’t make the original Phoenix record are very close to my heart and I just couldn’t stand to see them sit in the vault and collect dust… Hence the B-Sides...” In opposition to the more cutting edge and synthesized beatscapes of Phoenix, B-Sides offers the same lush harmonies and haunting melodies but in a more straight ahead setting. 

B-Sides is set for release on October 18th, with preorders beginning on September 20.

new music | captain supernova

Captain Supernova (C.SN) is a fictional Astronaut created by composer and arranger Eric Borders. The music for C.SN is inspired by Sci-fi Soundtracks, Jazz-Fusion, Prog Rock, and Soul music. The music for C.SN plays as the musical background to the story of the fictional Astronaut traveling through space and sending his message back to Earth.

“Let it take you to Wherever it Begins” - C.SN 

Eric Borders, born and raised on the westside of Los Angeles, is a keyboardist, producer and composer. He has produced for a wide range of genres and artists. He has shared stages with the likes of Kamasi Washington, Jose James, Jimmy Cliff, The Internet, Stanley Clarke and George Duke to name a few. Following up his 2016 EP Doors Of Perception Captain Supernova delivers a full length project titled The Voyage Never Ends, a lush and expansive journey in sound that may well accompany an interstellar flight.

"Cosmic, synth heavy sounds, like the Thievery Corporation blasted into outer-space, are the OST to the story of this astronaut." - Bandcamp New and Notable

The Voyage Never Ends stops on our planet on October 11, preorders for CD and Vinyl are happening NOW.