New Music | Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah

“All forms of expression in sound are valid, as all people are… this is the mantra of Ancestral Recall.”

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah sets the tone for his new project - Ancestral Recall - with this powerful statement. In his mission to unify cultural voices and tear down the sonic and social constructs that separate based on race, class, and culture, Adjuah asserts music has historically been disseminated to people with harmony and melody prioritized over rhythm. The value distinction leads to harmful hierarchal sentiments and perpetuates the view that cultures who prioritize harmony and melody are more nuanced and sophisticated than those who prioritize rhythm. It is an inaccurate portrayal. 

Ancestral Recall looks to excavate and update hidden histories in sound by displaying a sonic tapestry that illuminates the har-melodic movements found within rhythm, rendering previous contexts baseless, Adjuah explains: "In its inception, Ancestral Recall was built as a map to de-colonialize sound; to challenge previously held misconceptions about some cultures of music; to codify a new folkloric tradition and begin the work of creating a national set of rhythms; rhythms rooted in the synergy between West African, First Nation, African Diaspora/Caribbean rhythms and their marriage to rhythmic templates found in trap music, alt-rock, and other modern forms. It is time we created a sound that dispels singular narratives of entire peoples and looks to finally represent the wealth of narratives found throughout the American experience. One that shows that all forms of expression in sound are valid, as all people are." The goal is to connect people in one understanding rather than dividing them by definition.

The music of Ancestral Recall focuses the mind. As the ear adjusts to the shifting tapestries of rhythm, Adjuah stands firm in the mix, heralding the histories of rhythm and song. Walking hand-in-hand with listeners through his and their musical histories, clearing the way for a new reading of what all musical futures can become. Ancestral Recall is an album that might easily be misunderstood in its own time, but will certainly be seen as a moment in history that marked a momentous shift in musical and perhaps social understanding.  

New Music | Nathan Paul & The Admirables

The son of a pastor in Cleveland Ohio, Nathan-Paul learned from his father that life was about relationships, and he demonstrated this every day in church. He began his musical journey, like many, singing in the choir, and when it came time for an instrument he went to the music store with his father, choosing the trumpet but leaving with a saxophone. The elder had prayed for a son who played sax, you see.

Nathan-Paul finds it impossible to hide his creative mind. Making noise constantly as a baby, and to this day talking out his ideas constantly, Nathan-Paul calls himself an introvert. In this way one can see clearly that he is a transmitter of sorts; a human radio show with little filtration. His tuning is for real, as he translates the ideas into music that exists purely for our enjoyment and benefit. He writes what he feels, improvising all the time. He acknowledges the influence that the greats have had on him - Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong - but he does not consider himself a Jazz musician. He is here to get us moving, to invite us all to hear what he is hearing, to feel what he is feeling, to share in the absolute joy that music brings.

Nathan-Paul’s prolific output will be felt all year at Ropeadope, starting off with an ear and hip-catching single titled Catch Me If You Can by Nathan-Paul & The Admirables. Catch Me if You Can is quirky, it’s funky, and intense. Raw energetic solos blast over Michael Ode’s unrelenting power house drums, with a group chant and a hype man at the end. Matthew DeRubertis’ bass reaches deep and vibrates the inner core with some serious low end. The voices invite you to join in, like it’s a party. Nathan-Paul and Tommy Lehman’s horns are at the edge of control in the best way possible. The sax and trumpet have a blend, a spirit to that evokes a mixture of pure joy and teenage mischief.

We doubt we can catch the man, but we cannot help but try.

The Fire Brigade has arrived

We are proud to welcome the first Emmy winner to the Ropeadope family! Michael Whalen is a prolific composer, with hundreds of credits in TV, film, and commercial music. Michael is such a bundle of positive energy it is easy to se how standup comedy is also included in his credits. He brings fresh energy to the scene, with a broad base of musical understanding. From his DC roots with an obligatory love of Go-go, to his passion for Jazz fusion, funk and soul, Michael has finally completed the album he knew he was destined to make. And he brings the heat, with none other than Snarky Puppy’s Michael League on the bass and the great Vinnie Colaiuta on the kit. His new album is (sort of) self titled: Michael Whalen & The Fire Brigade hits on March 1st, with preorder starting…today! There is a time to sit back and marvel at the accomplished players, and there is a time to just get up and dance. This is both of those times.

New Music | RoSaway

Infinity Gritty is at it again, this time with the curiously interesting duo of Stéphane Avellaneda and Rachel Ombredane. Known together as RoSaway, the couple hail from Paris France and bring a unique sound to the world. Stef comes from the blues, touring the world with Serbian guitarist Ana Popovic. Rachel immersed herself in study at The Sorbonne and The Vocal Academy. Their sound is a blend of vintage sounds and electro-pop beats, with Rachel’s timeless and exotic vocal style. Their new project, Stranger, is due out right here on February 15.

New Music | Duncan Eagles

Last year’s release from Ollie Howell was sublime and powerful, so it was a no brainer when band member and saxophonist Duncan Eagles hit us up about his solo project. Classically trained on piano, Duncan picked up the sax at 16 and has only looked forward. His new studio album is titled Citizen, a reference to his feeling of inclusion in a global society. The vibe is relaxed as the album opens, and soon builds in complexity as Duncan tells his story on the sax with clarity and feeling. The band brings seemingly effortless communication as the compositions flow like water across the countryside. Citizen hits on February 15th, preorder right here.

21Soul | The Soul Of The 21st Century

If you aren’t hip to what we are doing at 21Soul, take a little trip with us as we interview artists on The Station Tapes podcast, generally mess around (with the cameras rolling) on Ropeadope TV, and premiere live music videos from a variety of world class artists. We’re happy when you go out and stream, but please do subscribe and stay up on the stories behind the music.

Unity is the Answer

As each day passes, we ask ourselves what we can and should do with this growing community of artists, activists, musical ambassadors to the world. How can we be of more service to them, and how can we connect them to more humans to lift everyone up in these challenging times? Last year, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, with The Centennial Trilogy, addressed the concept of race as a social construct, seeking to break down barriers by finding commonality in music. As we look over the landscape of Ropeadope past and present we find the persistent question of genre wherever we look, and it occurs to us that genre is quite the same; a construct designed to divide people into groups. While there have been great movements around genres in the past, the future is about breaking down these divisions and finding Unity with fellow humans.

And so the path forward is charted for us: everything we do will be about tearing down the concept of genre and bringing people to a common place based on the simple enjoyment and community found through music. From our release schedule, to our stories, to our live events over at 21Soul, we will weave the tale of that which brings us together, rather than that which divides us. In essence, to exist without walls, for they are simply a construct.


The 21Soul Sessions

We’ve been having a blast up here in Philly-town, with a monthly residency hosted by RC Williams and a rotating cast of Ropeadope family players and local artists hitting the stage. Tonight we step it up a notch, bringing together three very unique styles with an eye on unity among the crowd. It’s like tasting varietals in the vineyard, with a heavy groove. Come out and meet new friends who are united through the love of music. Tune in here soon for news of The 21Soul Sessions spreading to your city in 2019.

21SS 1-10 BANNER.png

The King Is Dead | Long Live The King

Is everybody buckled up? OK then, let’s GO. Ropeadope is beginning our 20th year in this here creative space turned blood sport called the music business, and we’re coming out swinging yet again. All year we’ll be announcing special events to celebrate the fact that we’re still in the ring, with concerts in Philly, New York, Montreal, and many more cities. We’ll be cueing up some special radio shows covering the vast collection of music that we have released, and we’re dropping new capsules of the legendary Ropeadope clothing line. To top that off we’ve got more than 40 releases cued up from some well known cats and some young guns: Anu Sun, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Doobie Powell, Duncan Eagles, RoSaway, Vivian Sessoms, Michael Whalen and The Fire Brigade, RC & The Gritz, and many more.

This is all about an ending and a new beginning as we declare the ‘record label’ a thing of the past and press on with renewed support for independent artists and new media initiatives under the 21Soul Media brand. Get it?: 20 Years and then 21Soul. We’ll have stories to tell in print, podcast, and video format, and live music popping up all over the globe as we transform into your favorite music network.

Where to start? Subscribe on Youtube and Mixcloud, and tune in here as we roll forward.


Twenty Nineteen

And so we bid farewell to 2018, a year of struggle amid serious changes in our world. A year of bearing witness to the truth of what we’ve done to our planet, how our system of ‘civilization’ continues to oppress and marginalize the thinkers and the dreamers, and how art and music continues to transform suffering into beauty. For every tragic news story, for every dumbass tweet, there is someone bringing joy and beauty to the world. And this is what we must embrace, we must cling to it as if it is our only hope. Triumph is sweet, but until the battle is won we will continue to cultivate the music and the music makers. And so we respond in kind to the powerful, to the gatekeepers, to the tech overlords, to the powerful ‘elite’ - we will press on with renewed energy. We will not yield to petty use of power, but will draw on the universal power within and live as if this is OUR world, for truly it is.

Artboard 2.png

2018 Countdown | Eddie Palmieri

Rather than interfering, here is Mr. Palmieri’s description of his second Salsa album of 2018, Mi Luz Mayor:

'Here I present to you the music that my late wife, Iraida, and I enjoyed in our youth.  I would play this music in our home often, during the holidays and on special occasions.  We would dance to this music, but there were also times where the music spoke for us.  Music was the constant force that touched our hearts and would heal any wounds that life sent our way. Ultimately, these songs represent our love story.  Selecting each composition and writing new music helped me work through my grief after she passed away in 2014.  Because this music is in her honor, everything from start to finish had to be of the highest caliber, and I am proud to say that it is just that.

The music is a reflection of the profound respect, admiration and impact both Rene Hernández and Ray Santos have had on my musical life.  Their arranging skills show careful study and the diligence I endeavor to carry over into my own arrangements.  It is the platform from which I rarely move, where the historical integrity of the Cuban structures are preserved and expounded upon – that is the excitement that drives my creative process.   The music also embodies the contributions and arranging talent of Jose Madera – I truly believe he is an inspiration to the next generation of arrangers.

As for the musicians…I am surrounded by Chiefs, each a master of their own instrument.  I am incredibly grateful to all the musicians that are on this recording and of course, the special guests, Mr. Carlos Santana, Mr. Gilberto Santa Rosa and La Voz del Caribe, Herman Olivera.'

2018 Countdown | Yasmine Kyd

From Onde Music in France comes the new album from Paris based singer/songwriter Yasmine Kyd. Already in heavy rotation with enthusiastic support from UK and European publications, Showtime clearly shows Kyd’s full understanding of the roots of Jazz, Hip=Hop, and Soul. The album is both personal and worldly, as Yasmine tells stories with her songs; one of the challenges of life and the need to embrace them with optimism, another about a young gymnast and the emotions of practice. Yasmine Kyd is a storyteller, with soul.

2018 Countdown | Whose Hat Is This

Rad X Rad: Bright Dog Red reviews Whose Hat Is This?

From silence comes joyful madness. Seemingly from nothing, Whose Hat is This? creates intensely alluring barrages of sound, replete with soloing, wicked grooves, spontaneous riffs, and lyrical wordsmithing. This recording, marked by striking musicianship, deft ensemble play, and sharp wit, reflects the status of the individual members of Whose Hat is This? some of the most distinct voices in contemporary improvised rock and jazz. Whose Hat is This? features bassist Tim Lefebvre (David Bowie, TTB), saxophonist Kebbi Williams (Outkast), and drummers JJ Johnson (John Mayer) and Tyler "Falcon" Greenwell (Col. Bruce Hampton). We couldn’t stop spinning this one, thinking we had indeed found kindred spirits in Whose Hat is This?.

(Joe Pignato, Bright Dog Red)

2018 Countdown | Troker

Once again Ropeadope Sur brings the finest, and this band is no exception. Troker hails from Guadalajara and counts early Ropeadope artists DJ Logic and John Medeski as influences that started their band. The create a powerful groove and weave in elements of fusion, rock, and traditional Mexican mariachi. Troker’s sound travels between the sublime and dangerous, all in seconds, giving you the feel of reckless abandon and comfort in the groove. Their new album, Imperfecto, takes you on a journey inside the mind and outside the real world.

2018 Countdown | Robi Botos

Leaving his native home of Hungary and entering Canada, It was not long before Robi Botos was in the tutelage of the great Oscar Peterson. And it was not long after that Mr. Peterson congratulated him on his chops but urged him to speak in his own voice rather than emulate the greats. And so he did, finding critical acclaim as one of the most diverse multi instrumentalists of his generation, winning many awards including a JUNO. A vocal advocate of his heritage among the Romani, Robi continues to include the style of Romani music in his playing and compositions. 2018 marked the worldwide release of Old Soul, with his core band Seamus Blake, Larnell Lewis, and Mike Downes along with special guests Lionel Loueke, Ingrid Jensen, and Cory Henry. Listen in on the full Robi Botos story on The Station Tapes by 21Soul.

2018 Countdown | La Pingo's Orquestra

Ropeadope Sur continues their selection of the finest progressive albums from Central and South America with the new release from La Pingo’s Orquestra. Their first album, Peregrino, was selected as one of the top albums of 2017 by the editorial board at Bandcamp, and now the band brings us Musica para Domar Monstruos, a complex interweaving of current and past elements of the Mexican Cosmovision. It started when the great Steve Albini offered to visit Mexico and record the band; the title means ‘Music To Tame Monsters’ , and the intent is to dominate the monsters that hover in the mind of the human being. On the cover is the photograph of the aquatic animal known by the ancient inhabitants as Axolotl (Water Monster) that lives in the lakes of Mexico and is currently in danger of extinction.

2018 Countdown | Vivian Sessoms

Accomplished singer and Harlem native Vivian Sessoms, in the company of some of the world’s finest musicians, stakes a claim to a sound all her own on her new album LIFE. Having earned her stripes as a performer with Ryuichi Sakamoto, P. Diddy, Michael Jackson, Donna Summer and many others, Sessoms and co-producer/creative partner Chris Parks bring their vast array of experiences to bear on an inspired, jazz-influenced set that proves Sessoms a fiery, forward-thinking artist in her own right.

Sessoms grew up in a musical family, no stranger to the challenges of life, nor to the continuing refinement of one’s musical career. With LIFE she opened a new chapter, expressing her vision in the first of a two part album. (LIFE II is due out in 2019). With guests like Casey Benjamin, Keyon Harrold, Donny McCaslin, Amp Fiddler, and Shedrick Mitchell she gives us a glimpse into her extended family of seasoned and progressive musicians.

2018 Countdown | Big Hands Rhythm And Blues Band

Yeah, we’ve got the Jazz, but sometimes you just have to kick out the Jams and get loud. Big Hands Rhythm And Blues Band does just that - passionate blues tracks with a driving, soulful rhythm lead the way, with Osei Essed’s deep growl conjuring thoughts of past times. Their new album is called Thoughts And Prayers (easily with a sense of irony), and mixed in with the rocking and powerful cuts are longing ballads that can sit with the best of songs in the Americana tradition. As another Ropeadope song craftsman, Andrew Nelson (Great Peacock) stated ‘It’s all just 12 bars and the human condition.’ BHRB brings that sad, yet hopeful element out in all of us, so if you’re reflecting on life as the new year begins, drop in here and get ready.

2018 Countdown | Fima Ephron

Once again Modern Icon Recordings adds a key title to its growing catalog. This time accomplished bassist Fima Ephron, who has performed and recorded with a cross section of some of the greatest talent in the music industry: Walter Becker, David Torn, Gil Scott Heron, Natalie Merchant, Meshell N'Degeocello, just to name a few. Fima had the opportunity to gather his talented friends - Adam Rigers, David Torn, Chris Potter, Nate Smith, and Kevin Hays - for a 10 hour session and document 10 of his compositions. The result is Songs From The Tree, and Fima states clearly:

‘My hope is that it will in some small way bring some positivity into the world, and that whoever is listening will find some enjoyment from having heard it.’

2018 Countdown | Aaron Parks

Aaron Parks refers to his new project - Little Big - as the natural successor to his Blue Note debut, Invisible Cinema. Here we see a prodigal talent doing anything but relying on the norms of the past by bringing electronic sounds, Indie-rock style, and Hip-Hop elements into his music. Little Big is a band; and it is obvious right from the start that while you will hear Aaron’s sublime playing, you will first and foremost hear the band, and therefore the full compositions. It’s a fine line to walk as an artist, player, and composer; that of balancing powerful voices that all wish (and deserve) to be the lead. Aaron Parks Little Big can delight and interest a listener with no ear for the quality within, and it can delight the listener with refined ears.