New Music | AJ Ghent

If you're looking for some powerful, soul searching, deep down in the groove music - AJ Ghent [J-ent] has the goods. His new project, The Neo Blues project digs back and forward in time - a howling, jumping, soul-searing interpretation of the blues. AJ handles all of the instrumentation on the record, as he channels his family tradition and the wisdom of his mentor, Col. Bruce Hampton. In an age of shine with no substance, AJ brings the feeling back to the music without sacrificing the polish. 

AJ Ghent [J-ent] is a musician hailing from Fort Pierce, Florida and growing up was all about the music. Music has truly been running through his family for generations; such as his great uncle Willie Eason, the creator of the “Sacred Steel Tradition,” and his grandfather Henry Nelson, the founder of the “Sacred Steel” rhythmic guitar style. This style is played by many names today, such as Robert Randolph, The Campbell Brothers, and more. 

Happy New Year!

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As we head into our 19th year as a 'record label', we'd like to send a big Thank You to all the music fans out there who keep this thing called Ropeadope running. 2017 was a stunning year of music, and we are pleased that we are able to bring both known and yet to be know artists to the mix. 2018 is shaping up to be even more diverse, with 38 releases already cued up from now until mid year. We start in January with a live album from Todd Clouser, John Medeski, and JT Bates, followed by the next record from Escaper and a gem from MK Groove Orchestra

2018 will also mark the return of Ropeadope clothing, as we roll out select pieces from the past and add new capsule collections to help you tailor the Ropeadope vibe to your style. Sign up for the mailing list below to get the news early. 

The Ropeadope family is growing, please stay with us and tell your friends so that we can support these incredible musicians on their journey. On this ball of confusion, we've got to keep the light shining. 

The Countdown 2017 | Louis Cato

louis cato is that true multi-instrumentalist, having held down the drum chair with marcus miller, guitar and drums while singing with bobby mcferrin, and a world of various instruments on the late show with stephen colbert. in between his time recording with q-tip or recording on the new jack white record, louis cato is a singer and songwriter - and his debut was released on 11/17/17. a collection of uplifting songs that can be defined as soulful pop, "starting now" reveals cato's view of the world - the message that he wants to fully convey. lyrically, he reminds us of john lennon and bob marley in that he is totally open and accessible, his story is our story.

The Countdown 2017 | Adam Ahuja

Adam Ahuja’s new record, Ubiquity interlaces two solo styles: ‘live-looping,’ featuring a compact multi-instrumental setup used for single take performances, identical to his on-stage performance, and ‘band-style,’ where Ahuja jumps between keys, drum kit, bass, guitar, percussion, and vocals to gradually layer takes one instrument at a time into full tracks. In addition to the audio, the whole album recording was captured on film and produced as performance videos for each track.

The Countdown 2017 | B Slade

From the increasingly diverse RSVP Records roster comes a record that is impossible to define: in fact we are still working to understand the work. B Slade is an enigma, a man who has released hundreds of songs in his 20 year career, and who slips past definition every time. Just when you think you know, he throws something at you that bends your ears and mind. His self titled album on RSVP is perhaps the best example - It begins with what could be popular Hip-Hop/Party music and moves through Soul and Gospel as B tells the story of heading out to the club straight through the next morning, complete with love and loss. It's a strange yet accurate tale of life in America, and there are moments where you cannot tell if he's poking fun or being serious. One thing is for certain, it's deep.

The Countdown 2017 | Uncle Nephew

When a legendary drummer from New Orleans and a rock guitarist turned entrepreneur connect in The Big Easy - what happens? A hard driving modern Blues record with nothing but raw feeling - that's what. Shannon Powell is a drummer with diverse credits, a teacher, and a sage who still knows the true value of music - the FEELING. Darren Hoffman is a guitarist, a student of history, and man with an edge. Together they delivered a project entitled BLUES - 4 classic tracks in a stripped down and amped up format. If you want to hear the hallowed sound that drives the human need for music, click play now.

The Countdown 2017 | Bajah

Billy "PrincePolo dropped the highly anticipated Universal Souljah from Bajah on Prince Polo Records this fall. The joint effort with Sierra Leone superstar Bajah  consists of 7 hard hitting tracks that are sure to send reggae fans into a frenzy.

"I wanted to make a record that was representative of New York, Brooklyn specifically." said Polo. "It was a chance to combine the common musical themes that Bajah and I both share and in the process create a new sound, and something that is uniquely Brooklyn in it's vibe."

Universal Souljah is exactly that. Universal. Musically it combines reggae, hip-hop, dub and African styles in a way that really hasn't been heard before, and the end result is something very special. From the heavy Rub a Dub style of Bigger Heads to the UK Dub influence of Love And Unity to the dancehall scorchers of Hot and I Feel Like this collection will take you on a journey that is both socially conscious and guaranteed to make you move your body on the dance floor.

"Bajah is a great artist and person and it comes across in his music. Making this record was such a great experience in so many ways." stated Polo. "He named the album and I couldn't think of a better representation of who he is and what he's about. Without question he is a Universal Soldier."

The Countdown 2017 | The Emancipation Procrastination

The Emancipation Procrastination, the third and final chapter in The Centennial Trilogy, deals directly with the social and political issues of the day. Rather than descend into identity politics, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah sees in New Orleans many disparate cultures in one space being underserved and exploited. His worldview is not just New Orleans, as he has traveled and toured the world for almost 20 years, starting as a child in some of the most revered jazz groups of the day (McCoy Tyner, Donald Harrison, Eddie Palmieri..).

“‘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.‘”

The vision of Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah is clear – that this is an opportunity for all of US to come together and address issues that affect ALL of us. Emancipation Procrastination means that we all have an opportunity to liberate ourselves from old world ideas. Let the healing begin.

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