Dennis Rollins' Boneyard, however, sounds absolutely great. Based partly on the traditions of "Shout" bands from North Carolina, whose trombone-portamentos echo the slides and slurs of holy-rolling gospel singers, and partly on the kind of good-time populism associated with the late Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, Boneyard is a very functional unit.
With Andy Grappy's tuba pumping the bassline and a drummer kicking out the beat, the massed 'bones parp away, combining solos with section work and wild free-for-alls. Whatever the format, Rollins counts them in and counts them out again, part bandleader, part ringmaster. Rollins is also that rarest of jazz beasts: a genuine star. Based oop north, and more likely to be found playing the Durham Miners' Gala than a smart Soho club, Rollins has become one of the most charismatic leaders in British jazz. He also works for the National Foundation for Youth Music, on their "endangered species" programme. Like the tiger, and the oboe, it seems the trombone is struggling to survive.
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