Dennis Rollins' Badbone & Co
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Dennis Rollins' Badbone & Co

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The best kept secret in music


Last week, the Wardrobe Club in Leeds celebrated its second birthday, and the organisers shrewdly chose Dennis Rollins to kick-start their party. As usual the British trombonist appeared fronting his funk combo Bad Bone and Co, a fiercely accomplished unit with chops of steel and a big heart. But of course, much of the success of this band is down to Rollins himself. While there are precedents for funk trombone - including Fred Wesley of the JB's, with whom Rollins has been compared - it still retains a deliciously novel appeal. Entirely lacking the saxophone's tendency to sink into cloying schmaltz, his trombone's visceral honks and irresistible downward swoops were full of good-natured mischief. As if musicianship weren't enough, he also proved himself to be a highly effective frontman. With big, sparkly eyes and a grin so wide it almost broke free of his face, he led the audience through a series of euphoric call-and-responses, exhorting us to feel "wild and free like the birds in the trees". If Rollins was trying to describe his own music, he couldn't have found a better phrase

- James Griffiths

Top division teamplay from Rollins and Co
You can appreciate repertoire music like sport. Conductors are not so different from trainers or managers; soloists and singers are like strikers or athletes; and drummers remind you of goalkeepers, at the back but helping the front line play better. And the kick you get from a funk-jazz band such as Dennis Rollins's six-piece Bad Bone and Co is seeing a good team in action.Rollins seems to draw inspiration from Herbie Hancock and Julian Priester's space-funk explorations, and from the razor-sharp semi-quavers of Fred Wesley's JBs.In addition to numbers such as Funky Funk and Where It's At (from the band's four-track EP, Wild and Free), they play an arrangement of the Bill Withers classic Use Me which develops from trombone, acoustic guitar and triangle into a full-out blow and then comes back down to the trio format without ever losing funky propulsion.Rollins has made the most of his flair by training hard and assembling a strong side. He's a contender, more than ready for his moment in the big league.

- John L. Walters

Now this is not an everyday event at the Phoenix - an audience whooping and whistling, blowing horns, and breaking out into blatant dancing at the slightest encouragement.

Mind you, this may be the funkiest thing Leicester will see all year. Dennis Rollins, trombonist with Courtney Pine’s award-winning band, leading his own Badbone and Co.

Rollins is an irrepressible and immensely likeable leader, goading on his band, and rapidly creating a club atmosphere with chanting, call and response, and general bonhomie. He plays trombone with a big luscious tone, spiced with judicious electronics, punching out the tunes, and blowing loose-limbed solos where torrents of notes alternate with lazy reggae phrasing.

The band - including Rollins’ brother Errol on drums - lay down a muscular groove, with enough bounce to stop the rhythms tiring. There are excellent solos, especially from guitarist Alan Simpson and Bennett Maclean on keyboards.

On Bill Withers’ Use Me, a trio opening sees Rollins playing both tune and backing patterns, before the band ups the energy level. More dancing, a delicate duo encore of Ellington’s In a Sentimental Mood, and it's time to join the queue to buy CDs and meet Badbone himself.

This is the first date of a national tour - if they’re this good now, towns later in the schedule won’t know what’s hit them.

Nick Jones, The Leicester Mercury

- Nick Jones


Debut album, 'Badbone' is played by various d.j's on JazzFm, London Live and Student Radio Stations



Influenced by the funky trombone of the great Fred Wesley (with whom Dennis has often been compared), J.J. Johnson, Vic Dickenson and other straight-ahead greats...and drawing from his Jamaican ska and reggae background Dennis Rollins has created a unique sound with his 6-piece band which has taken the U.K. by a storm. Having paid his dues performing and recording with luminaries in both the pop and jazz genres such as US3, Jamiroquai, Roy Ayers and Courtney Pine to name a few the 'Badbone Sound' appeals to audiences of all ages because Dennis Rollins has effectively demonstrated that the underrated trombone can be an exciting front-line instrument with his enegetic stage show and tight funk sound.