Standing on the verge of getting it on? Shit, trombonist Dennis Rollins' Badbone & Co. are getting it on. The dancefloor-centred Big Night Out is a mess of primo, back-in-the-day, fatback funka romping, party hard, on-the-one celebration of Funkadelic, General Caine, Mandrill, Prince Charles, Earth Wind & Fire and all those other US brothersreignited with love, respect and imagination.
There's enough jazz too, to free your mind as well as your ass, with an accent on Ellington and Lunceford, by way of Johnny Otis, in the charts. Plus an outstanding, five-minute, dub-inflected tribute to Don Drummond and the Skatalites (the sounds-like nyabinghi drums and trombone only "Stagga-Back"), some lively Afrobeat infusion ("Soul'd Out"), and a little mambo spice ("Alibi").
So the scope of Big Night Out is pretty broad, but it meets on the dance floor. Rollins' other current project, Griots T' Garage: A Musical History Of The African Diaspora, is broader still, tracing traditional West African roots music through hip-hop and groove. Rollinswho began playing with Britain's National Youth Jazz Orchestra before joining the seminal all-black big band the Jazz Warriorshas done his research.
The opening title track is a showcase for performance poet shortMAN. Over an Ellingtonian muted trumpet and trombone riff, and a loping, Last Poets-style drum pattern, shortMAN pays homage to earlier jazz trombonists, from the first New Orleans tailgaters, their names long forgotten, to icons like Kid Ory and Tricky Sam Nanton. This seven-minute track has enough poetic merit to leave you wanting more.
"Fire In The House," "Funk And Disorderly," "Soul'd Out," "On Da Floor" and "Head Rush" do what they say on the can, a riot of vocoder-like keyboards, dirty trombone and fat drums. Stephen Stills' "Love The One You're With," here owing more to the Isley Brothers' version than the composer's, is one of only two ballads.
Rollins solos, exhilaratingly, on every track, as does ex-Tomorrow's Warriors trumpeter Jay Phelps on most of his six tracks. The groove is heavily infectious. And there's enough jazz and world content to ring the changes. Big Night Out wears its musicianship lightly, and it's serious fun.
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