The Countdown 2017 | Col Bruce Hampton

It was a shining moment for us here at Ropeadope amidst the saddest of sad times. The great Col. Bruce Hampton departed the earth on May 1, after a full night of celebration of HIS life by an all star ensemble of characters that he has influenced. As the reality of Bruce's final earthly display of outrageous showmanship settled in, we got a phone call from a friend. 'Bruce recorded one night at The Vista Room (with The Madrid Express) with the intention of pressing it on Vinyl - would you be interested in releasing it?' Nothing in this world could bestow greater honor on us than this, and we immediately said YES, please. Soon the masters arrived, and what we heard was stunning - the great showman who consistently went 'out' in his theatrics and playing had brought us the most concise record of his career. We've played the record hundreds of times, and we cannot find a single moment that is not solid power and perfection. Like Bruce, the album will not last forever, so we urge you to add this to your collection today.



The Countdown 2017 | Chantae Cann

Atlanta native Chantae Cann continues to balance out the negative in this world by delivering positive affirmations backed by a gentle and undeniable groove. Her new album, Sol Empowered, hit the airwaves on October 13th, with her smooth as a warm breeze vocals and delicate riffs. The messages are persistent : ' You Gotta Love Yourself', 'The truth is inside' are perfect examples. One standout track on the album is Craters On The Moon, a longing love letter to creation itself. Sol Empowered caught the attention of BBC and WWFM DJ Gilles Peterson, as he included it in his Essential Jazz Albums of 2017. Is life challenging? Take a moment to reflect with Chantae and soothe the rough edges. 

The Countdown 2017 | Richard X Bennett

From Jimi Hendrix in swinging London to the Art Ensemble of Chicago in the protest-roiled Paris of 1968, groundbreaking American musicians have found an audience and honed their sound abroad before returning home to make their mark. For New York pianist Richard X Bennett, the path to his arresting raga jazz repertoire runs through India, where he’s recorded a series of acclaimed albums for the nation’s largest record label (and several classical labels as well). Though Bennett has spent almost three decades playing a diverse array of music on the New York scene, his two new albums serve as an eye-opening introduction to this bracingly original jazz artist. With his first U.S. albums under his own name slated for release on Ropeadope Records, Bennett’s mesmerizing raga-powered quintet project Experiments With Truth and melodically charged trio session What Is Nowannounce the emergence of a major voice unlike any other on the American scene.

Both albums feature the dynamic rhythm section tandem of bassist Adam Armstrong and drummer Alex Wyatt, with the Experiments session expanded by Lisa Parrott on baritone saxophone and Matt Parker on tenor and soprano sax. More than the addition of the horns, what sets the two projects apart is the quintet concept, which brings music that Bennett originally conceived and performed with North Indian classical musicians into a jazz context.

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. I like the analogy they use on cooking shows, ‘This is my take on a dosa.’ As a jazz musician, this is my take on raga,” the vast vocabulary of melodic structures, or modes, upon which classical Indian music is based.

The Countdown 2017 | The Kandinsky Effect

Warren Walker, Caleb Dollister, and Gael Petrina are The Kandinsky Effect. For 10 years, the trio has been refining their approach towards instrumental composition and production. Their music is multi-textural, adventurous, dark and rhythmic; it can be equally filled with risk and cohesion while navigating atypical time structures. Petrina and Walker’s appreciation for electronica inspires their methodical use of effect pedals to create lush dimensions of texture, and Dolister’s open admiration of heavier bands like Meshuggah or crossover projects like Jaga Jazzist often influences a rigor and attack in his drumming paired with polyrhythmic complexity.

Pax 6 is the inevitable evolution of 10 years of touring, recording, traveling, and living a life realized through the eyes of modern post jazz realization. The Kandinsky Effect know who they are and what they want to share. Pax 6 captures their visions of a dark, rhythmic landscape, and presents it carefully and intently. 

The Countdown 2017 | Chet Doxas

Rich in Symbols represents the culmination of years of experience in the intensely varied and dynamic career of saxophonist and composer, Chet Doxas. Based on his love of the visual arts, Rich in Symbols is inspired by the art movement of New York City’s Lower East Side between the years 1975-85. 

Chet has gathered together several of the most acclaimed musicians in modern music today including Matthew Stevens (guitar), Zack Lober (bass), 

Eric Doob(drums) and special guests, John Escreet on piano, multi-award winning trumpeter Dave Douglas and guitarist Dave Nugent to lend his definitive sound to several of the album's songs. Produced by Liam O'Neil(Kings of Leon, Metric, Broken Social Scene), Rich in Symbols keeps its feet planted firmly in the worlds of rock, jazz, improvised music and cinematic soundscapes.

With Rich in Symbols, Chet Doxas explores the world of transcendence and credits the listener by asking them what do paintings sound like?

The Countdown 2017 | White Dust

'I played cool, and hung out with the hardest bargains, and never copped a plea ... called Jim Crow out of his mansion in Waycross Georgia, taught him a lesson he'd never forget' 

Such is the poetry of Yusef Komunyakaa; powerful, hip, and compelling. Yusef speaks of an America we know, accompanied on White Dust by Mike Brown on bass and David Cieri on piano. The trio delivers a collection of Yusef's poetry with subtle improvisation, painting a solemn landscape of sadness and beauty, like a dream on a winter morning.

White Dust reaches into your mind and soul as if the players know your struggle, and are playing along to your story. One avid listener describes it this way: 'Walt Whitman meets Tom Waits on the corner of Africa and Alabama.'  Dig

The Countdown 2017 | Takashi Tsuzuki

It’s a familiar tale - a young (Japanese) boy is classically trainedfrom the age of seven, hears Paul McCartney at the age of thirteen and trades his violin for a Hofner bass. Thus begins the musical exploration that has been Takashi Tsuzuki’s life. Playing in a local band and frequenting the studio, Takashi delved into a mix of electronic and organic sounds.

Supporting his creative life through music creation and production for ad agencies and movies, Takashi continued to create his own music for the world. Embraced first in Europe by DJ Nick Luscombe at XFM, and then by EU label HAL9000, Takashi’s music was picked up by Ropeadope for his US debut, Monophonic Multiphonic (2010)

But these are trying times for musicians, and Takashi returned to commercial music and dropped his efforts to create his own music.

March 11, 2011 - We all watch in disbelief of video footage of the most devastating tsunami to hit Japan. In Takashi’s words:

““March 11th 2011 so many things got swiped away. Each day felt like a helpless journey through a  tunnel with no sight of tomorrow. but time just kept on ticking. I was at the verge of desperation when an email turned up, “i saw the news. couldn’t believe my eyes. are you ok takashi ? if there’s anything i can do just let me know.” It was from a producer Ropeadope, and his words gave me the courage to pull myself together. I started working on my originals only to respond to his kind words.””

In 2015 Takashi brought two records to the world - From Japan and From Tokyo. Collections of his work to date, both albums were distinct yet cohesive - one could feel the life of the artist developing. In the days since, Takashi runs the Seiko booth at Basel World, and composes music for Seiko and other commercials. In early 2017 he sent out the word to Ropeadope that another project was on the way - this time he's pushing into more melody and groove. An introduction to Atlanta Records NiA, aka Tomoko Nagashima, began the first vocal recordings of Takashi's career. And now we present It's Not Fair, the next step in the development of Takashi Tsuzuki

The Countdown 2017 | 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 Box Car 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 Countdown 2017 | La Pingos Orquestra

Todd Clouser and Hernan Hecht continue to lead the way to new and exciting music from Mexico and beyond under the Ropeadope Sur banner. LA PINGO´S ORQUESTA is the latest - a Jazz band straight from the streets of Aguascalientes, La Pingos members bring a swirling variety of sounds into their new album, Peregrino; classical percussion, argentine tango, balkan music with Jazz, swing and rock intertwined. This is fusion of the mopst diverse order, with a decidedly latin delivery. Bandcamp chose Peregrino as one of their top Jazz albums of 2017:

Whether the influence is Argentine tango, Latin American folk, manouche, Balkan, or NYC jazz, La Pingo’s Orquesta channels it all with a motion powered by joy. This sextet from Aguascalientes, Mexico are equally adept at triggering a tango as they are a waltz or tropanka, and trading ballad for bop for bossa. And all of it is channeled through a lens of folk music, a quality that gives all that motion some essential definition and provides the music an earthy soulfulness to balance out its euphoric joy. (Dave Sumner, Bandcamp)

The Countdown 2017 | E. Scott Lindner

Ropeadope Artist Adam Ahuja stepped right into the label world with the launch of Infinity Gritty, a music community, think tank, and consultancy organization that release great music as well. The first album from the new project is a self titled gem from E. Scott Lindner, released on July 28th. A New York City based producer, Scott assembled 2 drummers, percussion, upright/electric bass, trumpet, saxophone, Rhodes, B3 organ, synths, and electric guitar.  He booked a studio for 3 full days, and in that time, the musicians collaboratively wrote and recorded 8 compositions which were then performed and recorded live in the studio. The result is stunning. 

The Countdown 2017 | (U)nity

This record. Powerful, intricate, filled with layers of groove and intensity.(U)nity is that band that every musician digs, and just to demonstrate they popped a voicemail from Robert Glasper into the middle and flipped it Cuban style. If you go back and give your attention to one album from 2017, this is the one. 

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.

(U)nity is Power features Pino Palladino, Cuban percussionist and vocalist Pedrito Martinez, multi-instrumentalist Devonne Harris (AKA DJ Harrison), vocalists Jonathan HoardLauren Desberg, flutist Elena Pinderhughes, and bassists Luques CurtisDj Ginyard, and Joshua Crumbly

The Countdown 2017 | 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 1 milllion 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.

The Countdown 2017 | The Pollyseeds

Produced by Terrace Martin, led by the whole band, The Pollyseeds jumped onto the scene this year with a Crenshaw meets Detroit by way of Philly vibe. The band is a rotating cast of consummate musicians: Terrace Martin, Rose Gold, Brandon Eugene Owens, and Trevor Lawrence Jr, Robert Glasper, Kamasi Washington, Wyann Vaughn, Marlon Williams, Chris Cadenhead, Chachi (aka Problem), Craig Brockman, and Robert 'Sput' Searight. Their debut record, Sounds Of Crenshaw Vol 1, delivered an instantly recognizable Los Angeles soul sound. 

The band is about progression. Never becoming comfortable. Always growing. And always pushing the envelope. Intention and Always is my favorite: Intention 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 Countdown 2017 | Juan Pablo Arredondo Trio

JUAN PABLO ARREDONDO, guitarist and composer, was born in the city of Campana Province of Buenos Aires Argentina on November 2, 1978. His musical versatility and his understanding of the instrument have allowed him to be part of a number of groups throughout his career, working with artists from Mariana Baraj, Lucia Pulido, Donny Mc Caslin, Fernando Tarres, Ernesto Jodos, Mark Helias, Tony Malaby, Ches Smith, John Hollembek, Rodrigo Domínguez, Sergio Verdinelli, Luis Nacht, Hernan Merlo, Mariano Otero, Teo Cromberg, Hernan Hecht and Brian Adler. Juan Pablo he has recorded dozens of records as soloist and as sideman in Europe, Mexico, Brazil, USA, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic.

Juan Pablo Arredondo presents his new album PIV MIDI with the TOXI Trio, recorded in Mexico City in 2015.

PIV MIDI is the realization of years of shared experiences between Juan Pablo, bassist Jerónimo Carmona and drummer Hernán Hecht, culminating in the session documented here, after a 2015 tour in Mexico visiting some of the country’s most celebrated jazz and creative music venues.

Contemporary music, Jazz, free improvisation, folk and rock play equal parts in the compositions of Juan Pablo, creating a music that is expansive and free, touching on soundscapes but ultimately lying in the vast genre that is modern jazz.

The Countdown 2017 | Arthur Vint & Associates

Transplanted in space and time, drummer Arthur Vint rocks cowboy boots and a bolo, even at The Village Vanguard. His unique perspective delivers sounds of the Southwest in Jazz clothing on his debut album with Ropeadope - Through The Badlands. This year Arthur brought us a new project that developed from his work with Brooklyn's Nitehawk cinema, performing before a screening of the film The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Arthur reconvenes his AssociatesIan 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) and Yvonnick Prene (harmonica) to reconfigure and celebrate the music of Ennio Morricone. Although Morricone's music has been revisited many times, Vint & Associates offer a new treatment with fresh orchestrations and extended sections for improvisation.

The Countdown 2017 | HUW

It's no secret - we are huge fans of Aaron Dolton and his brother Mike. There's no pretense, there's just a groove. HUW has released four albums here at Ropeadope, each time a graceful and beautiful listen, with at least one track hitting the permanent in-office playlist. on Music From The Multiverse,  Aaron takes a new step forward with alluring vocals from Jube, and the lead track is one of those songs that we can't and won't stop listening to.  Drop into the world of HUW right here.

The Countdown 2017 | Digable Planets

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 out.

The Countdown 2017 | Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah

The second release in The Centennial Trilogy, Diaspora, is set for release on June 23, 2017. Christian uses the term Diaspora in 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.

The Countdown 2017 | Matt Cappy

Berlin New Jersey. Not the Berlin of world fame, just a small town in South Jersey where dreams begin. Matt Cappy grew up in Berlin with trumpet in hand, inspired by band concerts where his sister played clarinet, and by his mother’s piano playing. Eager to learn, he played in school and in church, where director Bill Garton and teachers Joe Fallon and Rick Kerber led him forward. Philadelphia’s University Of The Arts was next, and Matt was quickly immersed in the Philly Jazz scene.  Keeping his hometown connections strong, he landed a gig through Rick Kerber to play with Tony Bennett in Atlantic City.

And the rest, they say, is history. Matt’s recording credits, as of today,  include Michael Jackson, Elvis Costello, Jill Scott, and The Roots. On the road Matt counts Jay-Z, Jill Scott, The Mavericks, Maxwell in a long list of touring credits. Movie credits include Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, and Grammy credits include four records from Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin, John Legend, The Roots, and Alejandro Sanz.

In short, Matt Cappy knows the ropes. His skill is well known, and his style marks countless performances and recordings. Along the way Matt chose to compose, arrange, and record music, and naturally he drew from his many experiences and the people connected to them. There’s the local Jazz crew – Clay Sears, Steve McKie, Anthony Tidd and others laid down the signature tracks that speak of home, while Marsha Ambrosius, Stephen Costello, and Chill Moody speak of the diversity of Matt’s connections. As the relationships reforged the music, the album evolved to become Church And State, a travelog in the world of Matt Cappy. The names speak for themselves, and the dedication and time that Matt devoted to crafting a full experience are evident upon the very first listen.

This is the world of Matt Cappy

The Countdown 2017 | Leyeux

Leyeux is musician and expresser, Jack Snyder. Jack was raised in central Vermont: a tranquil environment which provides a continuous source of inspiration in his music. His first call to music was on the drum set, beginning at age 8. He began performing as a singer and guitarist in high school, playing drums in school jazz band and external professional gigs. From 2013-2015, Jack attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. During the time at Berklee, he joined Berklee’s a cappella group Pitch Slapped, which competed and won the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella in the Spring of 2014. His musical awareness as a vocalist and performer grew appreciably during the year and a half in Berklee’s immersive environment. In the Spring of 2015, Jack left Berklee to begin writing and recording with producer Adrian Harpham (NYC), which would develop into the debut LP, Day Is Calling. During the creative process they created the name Leyeux – a permutation of the french word les yeux, meaning the eye. During this time, Leyeux (Jack) began performing shows in Boston and NYC. He self- released four of the songs as “singles” with accompanying music videos. In December of 2015, Jack returned to Vermont to reroot and perform. During the year in VT, additions were made to the Day Is Calling album, namely Tribe of Light, Aftermath, and Day Is Calling ft. Erwan (Remix). In March of 2017, Jack transplanted to Los Angeles to further cultivate his artistry.