025: Island band with deep roots, new sound


025 sits comfortably together as laughter filters from one another this past Sunday morning. They seem fired up and focused on playing a great sum of gigs this summer. Matt Rosenthal speaks for the group, telling of their dire urge to play music every single day: “We all support each other because we all need to play. We were born with it in our blood.”

025 is a band that has come together recently to play music on the Vineyard and wherever else it may take them. Comprising some highly talented musicians, 025 includes Mr. Rosenthal on the drums and flute, Pinto Abrams on bass, Phil daRosa on vocals and guitar, and Jason Chapman “JC” on lead vocals. Their ages range from mid-20s to late 30s, and each member adds a whole lot of flavor to this funky, danceable, hip-hop-playing ensemble.

All Island-raised, the members of 025 have only been playing together since this past spring. They each have extensive backgrounds in music and do other projects, gigs, and practicing on their own. Pinto and JC have the longest history together. Both self-taught musically, Pinto has been playing guitar since the age of 10, and JC sat in with numerous singers and MC’s over the years. He dabbled with the likes of Johnny Hoy, Barbara Hoy, Entrain, MCS, and the Miracle Cure Band.

Pinto and JC started out together in 1994 in their band 2nd Power. Their first gig ever was held at the Wintertide Coffeehouse in December of 1994. JC and Pinto stuck it out over the following 10 years and invited a slew of enticing musical guests onto the stage with them. Among the lineup were L.A. based musicians Kenny Lyon and Mark Curry, and Islanders Eric Luening (guitar, vocals), Sabrina Luening (vocals) as well as Judd Fuller. Some other work with guitarist Jason Yost and Robbie Soltz on drums led to studio work with Komadose. Those efforts and voices combined to produce 2nd Power’s only LP: “Preferred reservation” (1998).

In the summer of 2009, the Phil daRosa Trio was playing gigs on the Island. A newly roped-in Pinto and the ethereal Matty Rosenthal playing percussion and flute inspired JC to sit in on some performances. Soon their entity became 025.

The sugar behind Phil, besides his charm and obvious talent, lies in his education from Keene State College. He graduated with a degree in music theory and composition. Phil has primarily played solo for years and been quite successful, as well as five years with the group Bathtub Mary. His solo album “Better Days” can be sampled on phildarosa.com.

Matt Rosenthal is self-taught on the drums and flute, and he takes his inspiration from nature. A favorite pasttime of his is hiking to natural hot springs, where, he claims, the reverb from the mountains following the notes on his flute is superb. Matt has played and currently performs with other bands and musicians. He also has a history of getting up on the stage at Nectar’s and jamming with artists like Israel Vibration, Sierra Leon Refugee Allstars, even the Neville Brothers. Matt adores traveling and has played for bouts of time in Hawaii, New Zealand, and out west in the United States.

025 doesn’t have the longest history as a group but they certainly have a following who likes their “original hip-hop with an eclectic style,” as defined by Pinto.

What pumps the boys up before a summer gig? Matt loves to pick fresh blueberries from a secret hill up in Chilmark, and Pinto anticipates the show in Phil’s studio. JC feels the energy after he starts to perform and people migrate to the dance floor. Each member agrees playing at Nectar’s and The Dive Bar are the best on the Island, but The Ritz is an old favorite, and The Wharf attracted a good crowd for their gigs this year.

Ninety percent of the music you’ll hear out of 025 is original songs composed by Pinto and JC during their time as 2nd Power. Their goal this summer is to revamp several songs and perform with a talented mix of guest artists.

Matt chatters away, discussing the established forms of each authentic ballad, yet says he is open to improv, as he is the percussionist. The boys back him on this. Variation is important to keeping the playing alive.

The songs written in 1994 through 2004 embody lyrics that roll with a liquid flow from the aperture of JC. “No Kind,” formerly entitled “Nuff Game,” starts:

“Sometimes I stand lone/just like the ranger/one time I fell asleep real deep in the manger/when I’m in the field them sap suckers yield/never got rich cause da drugs I don’t deal.”

025 plays every Friday night at The Dive Bar in Oak Bluffs; Saturday, July 17 and August 19 at The Ritz, and more often than not at Nectar’s for Local Night every Thursday.

Carla Felter, a 2007 graduate of Franklin Pierce College, lives in West Tisbury and works at the Green Room.