From Washington Heights to Lincoln Center - that is how you do it. And that's just what Lakecia Benjamin did, using her Saxophone as a tool for growth. She's traveled the world as an ambassador - not just for Jazz but for Women of Color - and held her head high as a bandleader. Benjamin has played with the best, from Stevie Wonder to Clark Terry, and now she is ready to release her latest work - Rise Up - to the world. Featuring a solid band and special guests Maurice Brown, China Moses, and more, Rise Up is a powerful statement both in Jazz and on the current state of our culture. The title track - March On - starts with the quote ' You can either live your dream, or live your fears', and that sums it up right out of the gate. Dig.
In 20 years Stephanie McKay has collaborated with a wide range of artists including Anthony Hamilton, Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def), Talib Kweli, DJ Spinna, Toshi Reagon and many more. Her voice is distinct and utterly soulful: her Ropeadope debut was on the Light Blue Movers release Atlas - and now Stephanie returns with a carefully crafted project on Modern Icon Recordings. Five tracks of longing and uplifting vocals, paired with the funky and intricate playing and production of Adrian Harpham. Titled Song In My Heart, the project brings out Stephanie's true essence and power, the result of a true artist and great producer digging deep to create a lasting document. Song In My Heart will be released on June 15th - stay tuned for details.
Middle Blue was conceived by guitarist Brad Farberman - something funky, with tunes, a tight band but open to personnel changes. Start with a bass (Danny Tambarelli) and a bari sax (Dave Sewelson), book a show at a magical music room (Troost), and everything will fall into place. And well it did, with a monthly gig, additions to the band, and a recording to top it off. Keyboardist Jared Pauley, Ropeadope alum Jeremy Danneman on Alto, Jessica Lurie on Tenor and flute, and the funkiest living drummer - Mike Clark - were soon on the roster and in the studio. The result is LOVE CHORDS, hitting the streamwaves today on all the places where music is found.
The time has come! AJ Ghent, heir in the lineage of sacred steel, communicator of love and groove, is all geared up for release day. The Neo-Blues Project is six tracks of electric blues that will knock you back and stand you up to dance at the same time. It's that feeling when the music takes control of your senses and you just don't care. It's that common feeling that we all share, it's music at its most fundamental core. AJ uses a variety of guitars - pedal steel, slide, resonator - and all the rest of the instrumentation himself.
This is the new blues for a new generation. Let's Go!
From the great city of Omaha Nebraska, Dana Murray is a drummer, producer, and a new kind of educator. He grew up watching the greats play in North Omaha, and he knew he'd better get his chops if he wanted to be in that company. And yet instead of a drummer's record, Dana brings us Negro Manifesto, an album of music with a purpose that evokes thoughts of many, from Gil-Scott Heron to Hip-Hop activists The Goats, from Coltrane to Philip Glass. Negro Manifesto is a reflection on our world from a man who is comfortable in all scenarios, and it is intended to bring dialogue around the subject of social justice. Dana will be touring - playing music and holding panel discussions on race, gender, and community throughout 2018. Stay tuned for previews of the album, recorded commentary from Dana, and a continued discussion to help us learn and heal.
From Naples Italy, Vocalist and composer Laura Taglialatella began performing in church, influenced by Black music and intent on experiencing the world. Her path took her to University (and private study with Jazz masters), where she developed her thesis - A Unifying Language: Jazz. Laura's debut album - The Glow - show Laura in the process of self acknowledgement, while exploring the space between genres and the spontaneous interactions that ensue. The Glow was recorded in two days, and features Dayna Stephens on Ewi and tenor Sax, Domenica Sanna on Piano and Rhodes, Matteo Bortone on Bass, Francesco Ciniglio on Drums, and a special guest appearance from Logan Richardson on Alto Sax. Expect a subtle flow, with introspective style and sometimes carefully punctuated vocals in both English and Italian. Preorder The Glow via Atlanta Records at this link.
We have a developing connection with our musical familia in Italy, starting with the 2016 release of Fun Slow Ride, and now we have a couple of great releases coming your way. First up Dario Deidda - Salerno born double-bassist with a uniques style. Dario's newest record - My Favourite Strings - debuted at #1 on the Itunes Jazz charts, and now we are proud to bring it to the world! As the title cleverly suggests the album follows tradition in paying homage to the greats and the American Songbook. My Favourite Strings was produced by Gegè Telesforo and features Gegè on percussion and vocals. Beautiful interplay between two great lovers of Jazz, in pure and creative form.
After two acclaimed releases in 2017, Experiments With Truth and What Is Now?, the ever creative Richard X Bennett returns this spring with a solemn reflection on life, death and the transformation of suffering into beauty. Away From The Many finds Bennett in a solo space, gently playing for an audience of one. This is a record for those times you find yourself alone, though it is also perfect for setting a quiet tone among friends in our all too frenetic world. Away From The Many includes two remixes from a piano player from another layer: Aaron Dolton joins Mr. Bennett in expression that more than matches the mood. The album is cued up for release on April 20 with Preorder on March 23.
Remember that name (Use the trick - Lick Ten Burgers), and you're able to discuss genius while cradling your choice of adult mind-calming substance. Every now and then an artist comes along that leaves you scrambling for comparisons - from Weird Al to TMBG, Les Claypool to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Beck to Randy Newman. Chuck Lichtenberger is able to get outside of the usual frame of reference, and beckons for us to do the same. We're lovers of art that stretches our thinking, and Chuck delivers - all the while with sublime performance on piano, a dedicated and skilled band, and the vision of Jonathan Scales in the producer chair. Ladies, Gentlemen, Visitors, molecular fusion vehicles - we bring you 'This Is What Happens When...' , set for release on Friday, April 13th. A beautiful dedication to life on a spinning ball lost in a mass of stars and whatnot. Take your time, enjoy the ride.
We are eternally grateful for the creative energy that Robert Sput Searight puts into the world, and we are honored by his presence here at Ropeadope and with his label RSVP Records. yet it is his collaborative work with Percussionist Nate Werth that intrigues us beyond all. Ghost-Note is their project together, and it begins with two drummers finding a rhythm on stage and in life. Unique in history, Ghost-Note builds from this core with no specific destination, and expands outward - adding melody and accents as it adds serious players who bring new flavor to the band. It is a fascinating process, and it is moving forward with accelerating power. What does that mean? It means that the next Ghost-Note record is a powerhouse of musical exploration that eclipses their debut, with a core band of Anthony ‘AJ’ Brown, Sylvester Uzoma Onyejiaka II (Sly 5th Ave), Dywane “MonoNeon” Thomas Jr, Jonathan Mones, Michael Jelani Brooks, and Xavier Taplin - and a dizzying array of guests including Kamasi Washington, Karl Denson, Raja Kassis, Prudence the Auset Sneed, Brandon ‘Taz’ Neiderauer, Nigel Hall, Bob Lanzetti, Alvin Ford Jr, Jay Jennings, Nick Werth, Bobby Ray Sparks, Phil Lassiter, and Michael Palmer. There's plenty more to say, but we'll just let that sink in for a moment. Drop in here for the title track.
A stage name that became real. John L Nelson was a Jazz musician hailing from Louisiana who put down roots in Minneapolis. Raising a family kept him busy as he held down a day job, yet all the while he was composing music and teaching his children the importance of melody. Later he would start a second family, and his son Prince would take the world by storm. John L Nelson's compositions were never recorded - until now. His eldest daughter Sharon assembled a band at Paisley Park - coincidentally with John's nephew Louis Hayes behind the kit and leading the band. They set down tracks for the purpose of history and to honor the man who gave us Prince. The melodies are sublime, with intricate balance and a sense of old and new fused in a seemingly effortless fashion. Drop in and listen to the beautiful music of John L. Nelson as we prepare for worldwide release on Friday March 2.
As we hustle into 2018, another year filled with quality recordings from a dazzling array of artists fully embracing independence and intent on bringing beauty (and change) to the world, we pause to reflect on the phenomena of the Ropeadope model. Six years ago we set on a mission to create the music industry that we would want to live in - a model of distributed collaboration that helps artists claim full creative control and build strong independent businesses, all linked to the extent of their choosing and working towards a new economy that is sustainable. The road has been challenging, as large companies control both the media presentation of music and the distribution, but we have been able to survive and thrive by connecting artists with each other and with fans.
As we forge ahead we will continue to share revenue fairly with artists and work even harder to build connection and trust, and we need you - the listeners - to keep the flame burning by supporting our work. Whatever your preferred format is - CD, Vinyl, download, or stream - we thank you for digging our music in the past and urge you to help our network grow by sharing the music with your friends and the world. All the links are here, drop in and enjoy the music.
The Great Escaper is back - Will Hanza and his retrofuture space rock/spy funk band of renegades are tearing it up again with their second studio album. Edge Detection was recorded at The Bunker in Brooklyn, with each band member performing simultaneously in isolation. The process captured the live interaction with all of the studio benefits. Bandleader and guitarist Will Hanza explains, “The term ‘jam’ can be a loaded one, but the idea of having some concrete ideas, while still allowing the music to be open to take advantage of the moment is really important to us.” This is a fan pleasing, room shaking experiment in music exploration, laying a solid launch pad for Hanza's soaring interstellar guitar. Drop in on Friday for a taste.
Release Date: February 23
Steeped in Irish music from the beginning, Andrew Finn Magill has balanced on the line between fiddler and violinist, with his first two records garnering critical and popular acclaim. What next? Move to Brazil of course! Fall in love with Forro, Samba, and Bossa Nova; play with the best and earn your chops all over again. Finn has done just that and brings us Canta Violino - a deep dive into music discovery across culture and genre. The beauty of this music is that we get to experience the new-ness and excitement of Finn's journey as we listen. Canta Violino hits on April 6, 2018
In 2016, The MK Groove Orchestra was the house band for 9 epic movie themed dance parties thrown at The Mckittrick Hotel, home of the long running immersive theater production Sleep No More, billed as “Supercinema.” The venue was converted to the landscape of the movie and the MKGO was the house band at these parties, performing MKʼs original arrangements of music from, and inspired by, the chosen film theme for the venueʼs revelers.
Jabberwockie was written for the Alice in Wonderland Supercinema, and was chosen to be presented at this auspicious time to commemorate 15 years of the MK Groove Orchestra as a stand alone track as it represents the highest degree of artistry the band can execute and present at this time for the greatest impact.
We are humbled and honored to be announce that the great Mike Clark has joined the Ropeadope family of artists. His father was a railroad man and Mike picked up a great understanding of different musical styles around the country while riding the rails. From Herbie Hancock's Headhunters to a long list of the greats, Mike Clark shows how it's done both on the drums and as a Jazzman. Hip, positive, and adventurous at 70, Mike met up with his longtime friend Delbert Bump and together they tracked an album of Hammond based grooves - Retro Report, bringing in young Elias Lucero to rip it up on guitar with some horn touches from Vince Denham and Rob Dixon. This is your Father's Jazz, your Sister's Jazz, your long lost Uncle Benny's Jazz, and your Grandson's Jazz. That is to say it crosses the span of time with a master's flick of the wrist. Retro Report hits on April 6 - stay tuned for this and more news from Mr. Clark.
Born in Vancouver and transplanted to London, Trumpeter Jay Phelps is a unique cat. His gears are always turning, and his resume shows it - touring with Jazz Jamaica, taking Wynton's chair as the master conducted the band in the epic 'Congo Square, hosting the Late Show at Ronnie Scott's - Jay moves in a variety of roles and keeps the music flowing. Jay's second solo album, Free As The Birds, is cued up for release on March 23rd here at Ropeadope, and it is best described as an exploration in sound. One can hear the breadth of Jay's experience, with a definite theatrical feel, and the warm tone that is his signature shining throughout. To top it off, Jay returns again on April 27th with NBOC - a trumpet and trombone production duo that heads heavily into a new sound.
On a busy day in New York City I got a call from Andrew Nelson of Great Peacock, asking if we could meet for a bit while they were traveling to their gig in Brooklyn. The only way the timing could work was if they met me in front of the Blue Note, and he agreed. Of course, the Nashville van wouldn’t fit in the parking garage so I just jumped in the van and got to know the band while driving around the west village looking for a spot. And so it was set, Ropeadope would release the next Great Peacock record. A beautiful collection of songs crafted by Andrew Nelson and Blount Floyd, recorded as a band with little studio tinkering. Gran Pavo Real captures a band in a room, playing great songs. And that’s rock and roll.
It is with distinct pleasure that we announce the release of The John L. Nelson Project - Don't Play With Love. The long anticipated album was in discussion between Nelson and his eldest daughter Sharon many years ago, before Prince Rogers Nelson changed the world of music. Shelved as John L. Nelson frequently collaborated with Prince, the project re-appeared in serendipitous fashion: the sheet music falling out of a cabinet as Sharon Nelson was organizing (yes, just like the movie). Sharon brought the great Louis Hayes (Prince's cousin) to Paisley Park with his seasoned band - including Richard Germanson, Dezron Douglas, Vincent Herring, and Jeremy Pelt - and they laid down seven tracks live.
The intense history paints the picture, yet the players and the melodies let the music jump right off the canvas. Don't Play With Love is a journey from the past to the present - we get the sense of an earlier time yet we feel all of the human emotion that rings true for eternity.
‘Our dad was a loving, caring, hardworking father and a prolific jazz musician most notably known as the father of the musical genius, our brother Prince. Our dad wrote and composed many songs, but they were never recorded until now. He was Prince’s musical inspiration, and this project is very special because it was recorded in Paisley Park and guided by the spirits of my father and brother Prince. (Sharon L. Nelson)