About In the Pocket: The Ballad of Bobby Trombone

Written by Jeff Campbell

Story Consultation/ Direction by Theatre Artibus

Music by Akil

A co-creation of Emancipation Theater Company and Theatre Artibus. 

In the Pocket: The Ballad of Bobby Trombone imagines life at the historic Rossonian Hotel, located at the pinnacle of Five Points, Denver’s historic Black neighborhood in the 1950s. The former Rossonian Hotel was the beating heart of Five Points and one of the most famous jazz clubs in the West durring the Jazz era.  

Three employees tell the story of its rich jazz history and how it earned its nickname “The Harlem of the West” in a comedic, fictionalized account of historic facts.  ‘In the pocket’ is a jazz term to describe when a musician or band finds a groove.  Garcia Lorca might have called it duende, the “'mysterious power which everyone senses and no philosopher explains.”  In the play, Bobby Trombone, the Rossonian’s head concierge, explains to a young bellhop on his first day on the job, “We do it like jazz. That’s the pocket, the rhythm, keep in time, be on time, adapt and improvise, until it’s check out time... Bellhoppin’ is just like jazz.”

The characters in the story offer a glimpse into what it was like as a Black resident of Denver who lived, worked, struggled and thrived in Five Points in during the Jazz era.  These characters also embody a larger symbology as the past and future of Denver’s Black community in relationship to its artistic identity over time. 



Emancipation Theater Company was founded in 2017.  Our name was inspired by the words of Marcus Garvey; "We must emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, for though others may free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind." We believe that storytelling frees the mind. In addition to original productions, Emancipation Theater also facilitates workshops, and community dialogue through the art of storytelling.

Akil (Music) is a composer/programmer/beatmaker/producer from denver, Colorado. His freshman release, “intrinsic” is a culmination of years of craft honing whilst being a go-to producer for hip-hop and r&b acts from the denver area for years. Intrinsic will introduce you to his jazz, hip-hop and melodic side, however he is a true jack of all trades and is not limited by genre, at times delving into house, edm, and hybrids as music in general is truly his inspiration. Akilbeatsdenver has been creating since a kid in high school, and with decades of experience, he now feels that he is just reaching his prime. This can be heard in the confidence of both the sonic choices, as well as the curation of songs for his initial self release. akilbeatsdenver is ready to be recognized as a healing positive force in the music industry, soon to be heard on streaming services, in movies and commercials, from couches and cars, headphones and hallways, around the world.

Theatre Artibus is a Denver-based theatre company dedicated to strengthening community through the experience of live performance. They are in residence at the Savoy Denver in Denver. Artibus creates and produces original theatre, often in collaboration with community and artistic partners, and conducts arts and education programs for adults. Artibus is dedicated to building community through co-creation, inspired learning and creative play.