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David Wright reviews Dennis Rollins' Velocity Trio

"It was a challenge to create a trombone led jazz trio", commented Dennis Rollins in a recent interview on this web site. "I find much freedom and space to express the trombone as a jazz articulated voice in comparison to the riff-laden approach funk music demands".

Judging by the queue of punters buying Rollins' albums after his performance today, his set clearly met and exceeded the expectations of some of the audience, who may have only heard him perform in his other funk band, Badbone Co. Whereas some artists may feel constrained by a trio, Rollins clearly thrives on it.  Opening with the punchy Latin feel of 'Samba Galatica', one doesn't miss the absence of bass guitar, as Hammond organ wizard Ross Stanley plays the bass parts with his left hand and plays a thrilling solo with his right.

Equally, Rollins is a soloist and arranger who never seems to run out of ideas, he point his 'bone out in different directions to the crowd and uses, but never over-uses, some effects to sometimes create different sounds from the trombone. His natural tone is warm, fat and rich, a true virtuoso player with a remarkable technique.

"We all have different views about where we may go when we leave this life", remarks Rollins as the ever-creative Pedro Segundo uses his hands on the drums and some tuned and un-tuned percussion on an incredible solo introduction to 'The Other Side'. A wonderfully textured and slowly measured composition, Stanley's Hammond reverberates like a church organ in a cathedral, enhanced by atmospheric keyboard layered parts, triggered as Rollins plays his trombone.

Taken from the first Velocity Trio album, 'The 11th Gate', the trio also play material from their forthcoming album 'Symbiosis', which includes a great twist and turn arrangement of Pink Floyd's 'Money'. It's certainly a surprise in the set and gives the original a good run for its money.

"We really enjoyed doing it, let's have a big hand for Pink Floyd", smiles Rollins and the crowd gladly oblige. More crowd participation ensues in their version of 'Freedom Jazz Dance' written by the American tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris.
As with all the great jazz trios, there's fantastic chemistry between the three players onstage which radiates offstage to the audience who have the utmost respect for the musicianship on display.

Rollins encourages all the audience to tweet and spread the word about Scarborough Jazz Festival before they are invited back onstage for an encore by festival host Alan Barnes, who is now as much an essential part of the festival as The Spa itself.
With echoes of The Beatle's 'Hey Jude' and almost a soft gospel feel to it, The Velocity Trio close with 'The Rose', another treat from their forthcoming album, which is sure to be in hot demand at the CD stall, if this remarkable trio make a return to the coast in the future.

 

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