New Music = Poetry

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. 

 

 

Featured Artist | Jim Stephens

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.

New Music | Takashi Tsuzuki

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

New Music | Chet Doxas

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. Take a listen right here and pre-order your copy today. 

Rewerc

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!

Infinity Gritty X E Scott Lindner

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.

Featured Artist | (U)nity

(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 ValeanuAxel Tosca LaugartChris SmithMax 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 HoardLauren Denberg, flutist Elena Pinderhughes, and bassists Luques CurtisDj GinyardJoshua Crumbly, and more.

Featured Artist | Trevor Lawrence Jr.

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…

Terrace Martin Presents The Pollyseeds

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.

Chachi | Rose Gold | Terrace Martin | Wyann Vaughn (Photo Samantha J)

Chachi | Rose Gold | Terrace Martin | Wyann Vaughn (Photo Samantha J)

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.

Photo Samantha J

Photo Samantha J

'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)

Death Rides A Horse

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. 

Apple Music X Ropeadope

Our hardworking and self professed fake CEO is now a curator in the Apple Music ecosystem, bending his non-musician brain to assemble creative and non-traditional playlists for your ears. Featuring some gems from the Ropeadope roster with tracks from the vast Apple Music service, the playlists will visit feel, style, social commentary and attempt to tie together seemingly disparate pieces of the music universe. In the future you can expect some more in depth and focused musical discussions, but for now it's all just a loose vibe. Drop in right here for a taste, and send Louis your comments via Apple connect. 

Sister Gertrude Morgan

In the fall of 2005, as the world focused on the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Ropeadope released two historically important records that spoke to the soul of the city. The first - the original Preservation Hall recording of Sister Gertrude Morgan's Let's Make A Record. Sparse, melodic, and raw, the album captured the true vision of Sister Gertrude Morgan - the self described 'Bride Of Christ' who wandered the streets of New Orleans preaching in her unique way. The second - King Britt Presents Sister Gertrude Morgan - a powerful imagining of the original with instrumentation from King Britt and Tim Motzer. The results are legendary - this new recording captured world attention, with consistent placement in movies (Miami Vice), TV (True Blood), and commercials. It went on to a third incarnation as rapper David Dallas, enthralled by the music, added powerful and positive vocals to create the track Running, which was featured in countless ads from the NFL to FIFA. Yes, a preacher from New Orleans changed the life of a DJ from Philly, and then again a rapper from New Zealand. Such is the lasting influence of music. Today we announce the release of a deluxe Vinyl edition of both original recordings - the double LP in a triple gatefold jacket, beautifully representing the original art of Sister Gertrude Morgan herself. We offer great Thanks to Preservation Hall, Vinyl Me Please, and the Artists for making this happen. There are a limited number of copies here.

(U)nity

On a cold winter night in New York, we ran into these cats at a Butcher Brown show. The night was electric, and the calm yet animated demeanor of Amaury Acosta was overshadowed only by the powerful personality of Axel Tosca Laugart (don't shhhshh him, he's Cuban). Everybody knew these cats, so we knew something was up. Bring it to today and their album is here. Define it we can not - but we can say it's unique. Guests include Pino Palladino, Elena Pinderhughes, Devonne Harris and more. AND some very unique commentary from Mr. Robert Glasper.

Enough talk! Let (U)nity is Power speak for itself and hit that play button. 

Digable Planets LIVE

The late 1980’s. The first generation of kids to grow up on Hip-Hop was coming of age. An experimental vibe was in the air, like anything was possible. This is golden age Hip-Hop, where stylistic innovation was the rule – From Public Enemy to De La Soul, from Eric B & Rakim to A Tribe Called Quest – creating the breadth of style that this powerful music could hold.

This is the fertile ground upon which Digable Planets were raised. Craig ‘Doodlebug’ Irving and Mary Ann ‘Ladybug Mecca’ Vieira met at Howard University. Ishmael ‘Butterfly’ Butler, originally from Seattle, was in New York. A chance meeting in Philadelphia (of course) led to full on collaboration as they connected over a common love of poetry, jazz, and Hip-Hop culture. Assembling in New York, Digable Planets released their first album in 1993. Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) hit the airwaves and was certified Gold by the RIAA. The lead single, Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)was a crossover Top 20 Billboard hit. While ATCQ and De La Soul had their spin, Digable Planets integrated soul and jazz into Hip-Hop in a fresh new way that broadened the genre musically and stylistically. Their look and vibe evaded Hip-Hop stereotypes at any early stage; one had the sense at the time that Hip-Hop was a vast cultural concept.

The trio went even further with their second album, Blowout Comb, organically integrating soul, jazz, and live instrumentation with social consciousness and positive observations on life. Blowout Comb was more serious, with political reference and imagery, which of course set the path for less commercial possibilities. Digable Planets called it quits in 1995, as each member went on to accomplished solo careers.

Fast forward to 2017, almost the other end of the evolution of Hip-Hop. A genre that has survived the pressures of the market, but not without collateral damage. We could say the same for the nation, and for just about every other genre. We find ourselves looking for the roots, the authenticity of music and of life. And so, now is the perfect time for Digable Planets, creative leaders with a stake in history, to return to the world stage. On New Year’s Eve 2015/16, the band kicked off a seemingly endless world tour to a chorus of appreciation. Along the way they returned to their culturally native spot – Philadelphia – for two sold out shows at The Ardmore Music Hall. Independent Philly label Artists First Records arranged to record the shows for the sake of history, and now Digable Planets LIVE is set for immediate release on Friday June 30.

New Music | HUW

Last November we boarded a train out of London, bound for a little town in The Peak District called Stoke-On-Trent. The goal? To meet Aaron Dolton, the man behind HUW - If you're just tuning in Aaron (and his brother Mike) have released several records on Ropeadope, all of which are in regular rotation at the office. Aaron showed us the new studios at Staffordshire University, an impressive setup of digital and analog for students to get the hands on of recording. We talked about the next HUW record, and now we are pleased to say it's cued up for release on July 7. Music From The Multiverse is a new step for HUW - with plenty of vocals and an array of interesting styles, all with a signature groove that is HUW. our fave is the first (earworm alert) track Already Home featuring Jube. Dig in right here, and while you're there step back and start with this track to get familar.  

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah | Diaspora

The second record in The Centennial Trilogy, Diaspora is set for release this Friday. The term diaspora is used here by Christian in the broadest sense possible. He is referring to the WORLD Diaspora – All peoples, oneness & love. While Ruler Rebel identifies who is speaking, Diaspora identifies the listener – WHO is being spoken to. Growing up in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah was keenly aware that people of different histories and cultures were enduring the same experiences and challenges. Despite this commonality, they accepted the notion that they we’re not kin and therefore nemesis. Topical ideas like race, religious purview, sexual preference & perceived economic standing ultimately stunt the growth of community, which in turn stunts the growth of Cities and Municipalities, States and Provinces, Nations, and finally our world. A deliberate stretching of styles and genres speak to this fundamental issue and offers a path forward. A path to break down perceived barriers and work together to build a lasting future. Drop in here to listen and support.