Dennis Rollins Velocity Trio: The 11th Gate (2011)
While Rollins' albums with his Badbone & Coin addition to sideman work with saxophonists Maceo Parker and Courtney Pinehave created some buzz around his name, he has yet to traverse the threshold that puzzlingly separates British and American jazz audiences by a wide margin. The 11th Gate may or may not help him in this department, but it does serve as a fine indicator of his talent, individuality and artistic aplomb.
The eleven tracks that make up this album seem to live by the philosophy that changein groove and styleis inevitable, but quality must remain constant. Rollins delivers choppy melodic lines ("Samba Galactica"), sermonizes with his harmonized self ("The 11th Gate"), engages in a song-opening pas de deux with Portuguese drummer Pedro Segundo ("The Big Chill"), and rides over the shifting terra firma that underscores many of these songs, and he does it all convincingly.
The intensity, sincerity and rhythmic precision ("Emergence") of his trio matesSegundo and organist Ross Stanleyseem ideally suited, and their unique personalities are highlighted throughout the album. Stanley is capable of exploring the great beyond, cooking in straightforward form, or painting a mood when Rollins' lyrical side comes to the fore, but he also has a hidden gospel fascination and Richard Tee-like side that makes a brief appearance on "Lightworker." Segundo is steeped in Latin groove traditions, jazz language, and funk-rock forms, but his knowledge doesn't end there. His solo drum vignette ("Contemplation") shows a musician capable of combining clanging Asiatic cymbal sonorities and African-influenced tom work into a short, coherent piece of free jazz.
While 11/11/11 was merely another day in the continuing cycle of time, it has clearly served as a watershed artistic moment for trombonist Dennis Rollins, and this album is the evidence.
Track Listing: Samba Galactica; Emergence; Everything Is Mind; Ujamma; Contemplation; The Other Side; Big Chill; Lightworker; Freedom Jazz Dance; Illuminous; The 11th Gate.
Personnel: Dennis Rollins: trombone, electronics; Ross Stanley: Hammond organ; Pedro Segundo: drums, percussion.
Record Label: Motema Music