Dennis Rollins with The Nick Dewhurst Band
Dennis Rollins with The Nick Dewhurst Band

The critically-acclaimed jazz musician Dennis Rollins had sterling support from The Nick Dewhurst Band as he gave a fine display of musical invention at the Lichfield Jazz and Blues Festival.

The set consisted of originals, some covers and the world premiere of a couple of new compositions which showed how the combination of trombone and electric guitar and a funk back-beat can work very well together.

They started with Nick Dewhurst’s original Bird Street Blues, with its New Orleans like second line rhythm and some bluesy unison playing on trombone and trumpet.

The tone poem Forgotten Times by Paul Robinson gave the composer a chance to show the more melodic side of his musical personality with some idiomatic soloing ideas from the rest of the group.

Tom Lindsay showed his vocal stylings during Fly Me To The Moon which featured joyful trombone interjections. A new original – Sunset with Santana – saw a Latin rhythm and catchy central motif raise the temperature, as did the suitably named Heat-Wave which closed the first half.

The musical highlight of the entire concert opened the second half, with an instrumental reading of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car. The minimal accompaniment was tasteful in the extreme and featured a rolling, Bruce Hornsby-type keyboard solo with some almost telepathic interplay between the ensemble. It shows what talented players can do with unexpected repertoire.

The second Paul Robinson piece, Azuri, was slightly more frenetic, with almost African rhythms and busy bass and keyboard parts underlying a joyful central refrain.

Slide and Glide, another new composition, showed the funkier side of the band with the inventive central figures of the piece providing some heavy lifting on guitar and trombone.

Shake it Down – a Dennis Rollins original – closed the second half, before the expected encore, One For Dennis, showed just how well this combination of instruments and players can work together.

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