Old Soul (Ropeadope)

Robi Botos

Released November 9, 2018

JAZZ FM 25 Best Jazz Albums of 2018

Juno Award Winner Jazz Album of the Year: Solo 2019






There is but one human race, and yet from the one comes immediate division as we place definitions on one another. Growing up in Budapest, this division was always clear for Robi Botos as he reflected on his Romani heritage and the suffering that the Roma have endured. Often emigration can be a desire for separation, but it seems that more often it is born of a desire for inclusion. This is true in Robi’s case as he moved his family to Canada at 20 to continue his life in music. Fully immersed in the Jazz scene, Botos placed first in the Montreux Jazz Festival’s solo piano competition, where the great Oscar Peterson took note. Soon the two formed a friendship that endured, as Peterson taught Robi to find his own voice.

Today Robi Botos is on call as a top pianist worldwide; his last album earned the Juno Award for Best Jazz Album, and he is persistently immersed in a community of inclusion rather than separation. Such is the power of music, and such is the power of a gentle, old soul, seeking connection.

We are proud to present the new album – Old Soul – from Robi Botos, a work that tells of the artist’s path and diverse stylistic interest. The core band is Larnell Lewis, Mike Downes, and Seamus Blake – and if that is somehow not enough, special guests Cory Henry, Ingrid Jensen, and Lionel Loueke round out the mix.

Dedicated to a dear childhood friend, the pianist/keyboardist András Losó, who was nicknamed gyémánt (Diamond). Unfortunately he passed away very young due to heart disease. Many great memories…I learned a lot from him about playing & music in general. His presence & music brought a lot of joy to many. One of the funniest people ever, too… I incorporated grooves & chord changes that we used to jam on for hours & hours. R.I.P

A song that contains mixed feelings. A bittersweet tribute to one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Many different experiences there for the first 20 years of my life. Some of the best, but unfortunately some of the harshest ones too.

Somehow that’s how this tune felt like to me. That’s the title which came to me from the feeling of it. Musically, this track is all over the map. It has many old & soul-oriented influences from Romani, Folk, Baroque Classical to Jazz, Funk, Gospel, Fusion to Motown & more…it all just came out like that. It also paints a musical picture of my journey from old Europe to North America.

I used to play in Church a lot. I always try to play the same way I did when I was performing in Church, everytime I am on stage. This song is really a prayer. Praising the One who gave me all good things including music. As my former teacher Jim Blackley said to me: “you are not the doer, you are the instrument”.

A Latin influenced tune, with a positive outlook. I wrote it shortly after winning the Montreux Jazz festival piano competition with a heart full of new hope.

One of my favourite standards, with a groovy twist. I love old standards & the joy in finding fresh ways of playing them without losing their meanings.

A tribute to the one & only Prince. One of the funkiest musicians, multi-instrumentalists & producers who ever lived. He was a musical chameleon. One of the few who knew his craft, kept & respected the tradition, but also brought a totally new thing to the scene. 

Track Listing:

1. Diamond (Robi Botos) 06:34

2. Budapest (Robi Botos) 06:59

3. Old Soul (Robi Botos) 11:36

4. Praise (Robi Botos) 07:27

5. Hope (Seamus Blake / Robi Botos / Mike Downes / Larnell Lewis) 06:27

6. Days Of Wine And Roses (Henry Mancini / Johnny Mercer) 06:39

7. Calhoun Square (Prince) 07:51


Robi Botos: piano, keys, harpejji, melodica, percussion
Larnell Lewis: drums
Mike Downes: acoustic and electric bass
Seamus Blake: saxophones and EWI
String Section (2, 3):
Drew Jurecka (violin 1), Rebekah Wolkstein (violin 2), Shannon Knights (viola), Lydia Munchinsky (cello)

Special Guests
Cory Henry: Hammond B3 organ (7)
Ingrid Jensen: trumpet (7)
Lionel Loueke: guitar (7)

Recorded July 3, at Planet Studios, Montreal, Canada, by Nicolas Roberge
Percussion Overdubs recorded at Sound Lens Studio, Markham, Ontario by Ted Sevdalis Produced by Scott Morin and Robi Botos
Recording Supervised by Dan Cinelli at Planet Studios
Mixed by John ‘Beetle’ Bailey
Mastered by Peter Letros
Photography: Tracey Nolan
Art Direction and Design: Simon Paul


Robi Botos is Romani, a culture marked by the challenge of striving for, and being wary of, acceptance. It is a culture rich in artistry. The music is exciting and haunting. Fittingly, Old Soul speaks to struggle and adventure. It speaks to experience and history, to the immigrant mystique and the notions of nations and artificial boundaries. The album has a sense of intimacy. It is as much Botos’s soul being bared as it is beautiful music and storytelling. The players on this recording act as one — a true band of old-soul storytellers.

John Devenish (JAZZ.FM)