THE ROPEADOPE MUSIC CONFERENCE

Sounds of all shapes, sizes and intricacies were thrown about the room at the First ropeadope Music Conference. Featuring one of the most surreal and engaging assemblages of musicians our generation had ever welcomed to one stage, the band went from ridiculous to even more ridiculous. To give you an idea, the two-hour jam session included Vernon Reid, DJ Logic, Mike Gordon, Warren Haynes, Skerik, Deantoni Parks, Steffon Lessard, Stanton Moore, Charlie Hunter, Jessica Lurie, Casey Benjamin and all kinds of other cats. At the end of it all they rapped up this amazing night with AC/DC's "Back In Black."

The creation of a sequel to such an adventurous and sublime evening is quite an endeavor. The big man at ropeadope and the MC for the evening Andy Hurwitz is well aware of that. He knows that round one was such a mind-blowing experience and could not possibly be recreated, because, well, he kind of created it. But that does not mean that round two couldn't be just as brilliant. Especially if you spin things up a bit.

Well Andy did all that and more, bringing the people together solely by the love of the music, which by today's standards is a very daunting task.

Lucky for us, ropeadope records is far above the standards of today’s music industry.

For the cost of one-hundred percent pure love, the hot music was brought to the people once again as the Second ropeadope Music Conference infused compositional dialectics drawn from the books of the most fine tuned of artistic minds, leaving for life’s simplest and most satiating pleasures to fill the soul.


photo by Phil Stiles
Treading the fine territory between Public Enemy’s TerminatorX and DJ Shadow, the triumvirate of drummer Billy Martin, bassist Rob Wasserman and DJ Logic was beautiful entrance music to the ropeadope play land, where the saying on the door read: “Space is the place where we play.” Jedi Knight Fareed Haque joined later in the set and just laid back into something a little blue, fully complementary to the trio with a bit more room to move when he chose to which was not often. A break in the action got Beantown selector Mr. Rourke on the ones and twos for some nice old school breaks and kept the vibe humming.


Photo by Dr. Shouse
The announcement of Pat Martino’s absence due to a family emergency brought great concern to the room, but voices were soon quelled by the entrance of John Scofield who was joined by bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wolleson, acting as one of the hottest rhythm section around, period. Both Scherr and Wolleson have been featured on many amazing records in the past few years including Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me and are mainstays as the movements behind the revolutionary Bill Frisell. And to top all of it off, the great Uri Caine was seated at the Fender Rhodes for this segment of the program. A very jazzy hour ensued as Scofield often indulged in his somewhat newfound trick where he plays a lick and then loops that very lick backwards and continues on until he does it again. Next time you see him play, watch for it. Uri got a little room and his superb left hand comping shined and really brought the energy up. Following Uri giving up as much Herbie as you could handle, a deep valley came about half way through the session and it took a while to dig out. Really missing Martino in this scenario, Scherr opened up a bit but was soon overtaken by the repetitive work of Scofield who was able to bring things back up somewhat, but time fell short before anything happened.

But when the midnight hour came around, some real heavies took the floor and began to tear the roof off the place. All beats, rhythms and life were provided by Deantoni Parks: part human 808, part Tony Williams and just plain nasty. Logistics professors Lamont McCaine and the undisputed Casey Benjamin held down the bottom and the ballistics, respectively. The return of the Jedi Fareed Haque and his partner in crime, Garaj Mahal keyboardist Eric Levy, filled out what was perhaps the fourth set of collaborations thus far.

Logic and Rourke, remaining on the stage after their tag-team little beat session, dropped some flavors for Parks and McCaine to work with and let Casey just take off for a little while. Fareed and Eric Levy added some brightness to the room. As the movements grew and become more involved, weaving their way into the pocket, Deantoni was just feeling the thump in the back. Lamont was working hard and getting his on as well and Fareed was beside himself with joy, kind of hopping around the stage a little bit and taking from his players and giving it back to others. What an incredible scene. These cats kept it on with high energy and supreme knock, keeping it shaking until their set time was up.


Photo by Dr. Shouse
Then some crazy nuts shit went down. Logic got on the mic and asked if there were any drummers in the house. All these kids started getting wild and pushed a friend of theirs up to the stage. The kid got up and told Logic he was Dan, Dan from Montreal. So this kid’s a drummer and he’s taking a seat at the drum stool and Fareed Haque is in front of him and the place is still jumping and he’s the drummer. DJ drops the A+ head-bop beat and Dan gets behind it and holds it down and kept it going as the band rocked in front. Adding sugar and spice and everything nice, the first ladies of the woodwinds Jessica Lurie and Hope Clayburn got up and cut it. B-3 maestro Marco Benevento jumped up for a bit as well as the revolving door rotations of just the baddest cats around continued. A hot jam later, Benevento compadre Joe Russo took the place of Dan from Montreal along with 20th Congress altoist and Brooklyn resident Cochemea Gastelum. Russo hit it off with some of that down home funky stuff, and we were off and running once again as Cochemea got some serious blowing done. He has become good friends with Marco and Joe since moving into town and it showed: these guys gave you the hits and did not stop until well past 2am.

As round one of the "ropeadope get it done and get down" Music Conference was such a profoundly impressive and extraordinary series of events dripping in communicative radiance, round two was an event of similar magnitude styled and more thoughtful in its fashioning of the experience. Each bore utter brilliance in its own unique way, characteristics reflecting Andy Hurwitz and the ropeadope community of people and their exemplary work. They are the new model.

As the mesopotamian silk roads carried many indulging gifts and wishes from kingdoms across vast landscapes, ropeadope records has been bringing new aural treasures to the world almost monthly and has been kind enough to hold court in its home base of New York City, featuring the way-out things they got cooking at what some might call the hottest label out right now. (Consider three different albums finishing in the top ten of three different categories in the Amazon.com music critic’s polls: #3 Jazz - Dirty Dozen Brass Band Medicated Magic, #9 Rap/Hip-Hop - The Yohimbe Brothers Front End Lifter, #9 Latin - Spanish Harlem Orchestra Un Gran Dia en el Barrio. Now, I don’t work for Amazon but I think this stat means people are feeling ropeadope, dig.) This spirit, drive and intelligence is bringing them great success as a label looking to bring the best music that is out there to the people. That’s what this is all about, right?

Robert Krevolin
JamBase | East Coast
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[Published on: 1/1/03]

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