Heavy Rotation: Dennis Rollins Velocity Trio, ‘The 11th Gate’

With Supreme blogger Patrick Jarenwattananon on vacation, we asked jazz music directors from around public radio to highlight songs that have been in heavy rotation at their stations. Today’s pick comes from Matt Fleeger of KMHD and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland.

Dennis Rollins is a British trombone player who’s worked with Maceo Parker, Marcus Miller and Roy Ayers. On his newest release, the 11th Gate (named after the date 11/11/11, which Rollins believes will usher in a new age of ‘Global Awareness’) he brings forth his new “Velocity Trio” which is comprised of Trombone, Organ, and Drums.

This is not a groove-oriented release, though there are grooves to be found on the 11th Gate. Instead, the trio takes a more subdued, nuanced approach in creating textures and spiritualized cerebral fields for the listener to explore.

Rollin’s trombone playing is unique, he has a sort of “cool” sensibility on the instrument and a strong tone that’s identifiable. On tunes like “The Other Side” his playing matches well with the Hammond Organ of Ross Stanley, who’s notes and playing are reminiscent of cosmic raindrops falling from some far part of the galaxy. Drummer and latin percussionist Pedro Segundo holds the session together with sharp flourishes and mellow conga pats thoughout the recording. Even though it’s been done to death, the trio finds some new territory to forge inside a rollicking version of Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance” which shifts tempo and time-signatures without losing the groove (or the listener).

While the 11th Gate may not be a full-fledged concept album, it does take the listener on a trip through the intellect of this great composer and player. Best of all, it’s a solid listen the whole way through, worthy of a place in your collection.

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