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Dennis Rollins presents Griots T’ Garage, Harrogate Festival, July 26
10:05am Wednesday 25th July 2012 in Music news and reviews
YOU will hear Dennis Rollins’s trombone tomorrow at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, but he will not be playing it live in his Griots T’ Garage show.
“Usually, my input is to be on stage with a million guitar pedals and my trombone…that would be the normal story but I’ve just had a thyroid out, three weeks ago,” says Dennis, who is still feeling the after-effects of the four-hour operation.
“So I won’t be performing per se; I’ve pre-recorded the trombone for the show, but I’ll still be there controlling the sound – as a lot of the music is computer-based – and I’ll be doing a question-and-answer session too.”
Griots T’ Garage – A Musical History Of The African Diaspora will follow a musical timeline from the pre-slavery 1600s, through call-and-response field songs to the blues, jazz, soul, reggae, funk, Latin and hip-hop, ending up with the “jumping Garage music” of the late 1990s.
“The prospect of being given free rein in choosing a theme as guest curator was irresistible,” says Dennis. “I decided to draw upon the many and varied influences that have characterised my personal musical journey. I believe that growing up in Yorkshire as a child of Jamaican immigrants has given me a unique perspective, and my 27-year career, underpinned by the discipline of my early days performing in the colliery brass bands, has also been enriched by many fortunate opportunities to perform with some of the world’s greatest musicians and learn from a myriad of styles and cultures along the way.”
The resulting Griots T’ Garage combines the interpretative jazz compositions of Rollins with multi-media, recordings and the dancing of Perry Louis, who runs the London dance crew The Jazzcoteque Dancers.
“Perry will represent each music movement in dance, and this time we also have a video DJ, Nick Hillel from Yeast Multimedia, who’ll represent the story in pictures,” says Dennis.
Griots T’ Garage will be the climax of Dennis’s role as the guest jazz curator for the 2012 Harrogate Festival. Already, he has brought steel pan drummer Samuel Dubois and the classical brass music of YouTuba to the festival’s Spiegeltent on July 14 and 21 respectively and screened the BBC film adaptation of the novel Small Island. On the educational side, he invited Afro-Brazilian percussionist Claudio Kron to run a workshop for young percussion players last Sunday.
“It’s kind of ironic that the theme of my curator’s role was ‘Breathe’ when in fact I can’t breathe down a trombone right now, though I could barely even speak last week,” says Dennis. “I’ll hopefully be back on my trombone in two weeks’ time.”
More immediately, tomorrowt he will be hosting Griots T’ Garage. “For a very long time I’ve been trying to find a way to do a show that documents, not in a specific way, but loosely, the history of black music,” says Dennis.
“We’ve had plenty that have focused on one style or one era but I wanted to cross the styles and eras, bringing them together in jazz as I feel the story is best told from a jazz angle because improvisation is the strongest way to do it.”
Dennis Rollins presents Griots T’ Garage, Harrogate Festival, Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, tomorrow at 8pm. Box office: 01423 502116 or harrogateinternationalfestivals.com