For 25 years British trombonist Dennis Rollins has played at the forefront of the UK jazz, funk and pop scene as an ‘impossibly virtuosic’ sideman to such stars as Maceo Parker, Courtney Pine, The Brand New Heavies, Blur, Tom Jones and as an award-winning leader in his own right.
Rollins is best known on the British and international jazz scene and is celebrated for his versatility and muscular approach on the trombone. A British musician with Jamaican roots and a top-class jazz/funk pedigree, Rollins’ diverse musical influences are at the heart of his crowd-pleasing compositions, which consistently elicit high praise. Among his accolades are winning the 2006 BBC Jazz ‘Best Band’ award in 2006, the Parliamentary Jazz Education’ Award, and Ronnie Scott’s ‘Best Trombone’ Award.
Obviously Rollins is considered a national musical treasure in the UK, and the buzz already surrounding his first international release, The 11th Gate, is setting the stage for him to rise to the rightful place as one of the world’s most formidable performer–leader–composers in his genre.
Alongside Rollins in the Velocity Trio are organist Ross Stanley (The Steve Howe Trio, Mark McKnight, Dylan Howe) and the fiery young drummer Pedro Segundo. The three cast a spellbinding sound as a charmed collective of musical prowess and muscular virtuosity that almost telepathically creates refined contemporary jazz arrangements marked by deep simmering grooves, attracting multiple generations of jazz, funk and world music fans. The ‘electric’ energy of Rollins’ Velocity Trio morphs seamlessly from atmospheric ethereal melodies generated by Rollins’ multi-harmonized horn to cinematic washes of Segundo’s cymbals spilling over Stanley’s growling organ grooves, to choral gospel riffs in praise of nature’s inherent vibrational divinity.
The Trio’s collaborative energy illuminates each of The 11th Gate’s eleven tracks. The CD’s opening track,“Samba Galactica,” provides a first taste of the group’s imaginative artistry as they embellish samba rhythms with the interplay of Rollins’ steady trombone and Stanley’s roaring organ. On “Emergence,” Stanley’s organ sets an almost ethereal mood, echoed by Segundo’s mellow touch, laying a smooth foundation over which Rollins can move in to up the intensity. The same level of energy propels “Ujamma,” on which a musical tension builds until it is steadied, supported by the trombone’s slow sombre groove and a swinging drumbeat. On “The Other Side,” Segundo’s rhythmic contributions add a dash of delight, as if to transport listeners to that “other side” for which the track is titled.
As Motéma’s first British signing, Rollins brings more than just his charismatic trio to the states. The album’s title, The 11th Gate, is uniquely poised to gain attention due to this year’s widely publicized 11-11-11 phenomenon. Already the subject of a movie and many web posts (clocking millions of views), the date is attributed by some to be ushering in an Age of Aquarius-like shift towards a positive collective consciousness, and by others to be the gateway to the end of the world. Hopefully the latter prophecy will not come true, as the CD will see its UK release in November of 2011.
The title of the CD also references Rollins’ 47th (4 + 7 = 11) birthday, emphasizing the positive numerical significance of this extraordinary musical leader and his unique musical vision.
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