Foundry 616, December 12


Tim rollinson 1
Tim Rollinson. Photo supplied.

Tim Rollinson holds his guitar very distinctively, so the fingerboard is almost facing him. It’s as if he’s having a conversation with it – which he is: one in which charm and erudition predominate over lightning bolts of wit or thunderclaps of innovation. Rollinson, best known as a member of Dig, uses beauty of line and of tone like a sophisticated charcoal artist.

This, essentially a top-shelf pick-up band, with bassist Tom Botting and drummer Hamish Stuart, plus trombonist James Greening as a special guest, deserves a life of its own. Were that to happen, the minor impediments to its being constantly airborne would be swiftly swept away.

Even so, lift-off was the norm rather than the exception, as the quartet roamed across quite broad compositional territory, including standards (beginning with a silken Blue Monk), Rollinson originals and, among the highlights, Bill Frisell’s Strange Meeting. With this the emphasis on groove switched to eerie atmospherics, like a painting by Giorgio de Chirico or, more aptly, Peter Boggs. But if the composition was about ambiguities and implied presences, the improvising populated it with humanity: meditatively so with the bass solo and more animatedly with the trombone, before the piece became a fertile soundscape for Rollinson to explore the use of space and implications of rests.

His Cause and Effect boasted as funky a drum solo as you will hear in this country, and a trombone foray of such joie de vivre as suggested that if you could bottle James Greening he could be a highly effective anti-depressant. Rollinson’s rockier Who Do You Blame? revealed the Hyde that cohabits with his Jekyll amid bent-note squeals and sudden squalls.

Greening played an impossibly tender cadenza to end In a Sentimental Mood, and Old King Soul began with a drum feature (against the guitar and bass) of juddering syncopations. They cooked up a mighty groove for Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder, which had Greening skidding into overdrive, before an engrossing bass solo on the absurdly happy Jitterbug Waltz.