All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Adam Rogers' Dice Trio at Hong Kong Arts Center

Rob Garratt By

Sign in to view read count
Adam Rogers' Dice Trio
Shouson Theatre, Hong Kong Arts Center
Jazz World Live Series
Hong Kong SAR
May 28, 2018

As the scraggly haze of copiously denim-clad, baseball cap and ponytail-touting figures assembled onstage, Adam Rogers' Dice Trio bore the indifferent appearance of a small town bar band—which was not entirely inappropriate. A conservatory-schooled classical player, tutored in jazz by John Scofield and known for stints with Michael Brecker, Chris Potter and more, Rogers conceived of Dice as his way to kick back and explore rawer formative interests—namely funk, blues and a whole lot of rock.

He came to Hong Kong on May 28 well prepared for the task, packing a classic sunburst Strat and misbehaving Marshall stack—an iconic combo made famous by Rogers' first hero, Jimi Hendrix—channeling a warm, crisp guitar tone laced with all the cheesy rock trapping of big, squealing bent notes, whammy bar vibrato and dropped-D tuning.

The mood was unapologetically established with the intense opener "Dice," a thick funk-rock sludge built around a series of asymmetrical riffs which doubles as the opener/title track/manifesto of last year's recorded debut, before the trio proceeded to indolently work their way through eight-tenths of the self-released LP in order: The lazy mid-tempo blues nod "Chronics" was followed by the frenetic in-the-pocket pulse of "Sea Minor" before the musicians even looked up to acknowledge their audience. By now, 30 minutes in, the languid sense of three guys jamming in a garage was set—chunky, funky riffs picked up and passed around, rhythmically dense but harmonically tethered fare serving as an undemanding canvas for Rogers' searing, scintillating solos. Self-consciously dumbing down, the American guitarist flipped repeatedly between passages of familiar pentatonic rock and blues phrasing and moodier modal extractions; the sense is of an intellectually minded orator trying to connect with the everyman within.

One wondered at times if he missed having more meat to play with—while it was liberating to hear a jazz guitarist free from the rigmarole of playing over the changes, at times it might have been more engaging for all had there been a few more changes to play over. Despite being billed as a trio, established bassist Fima Ephron and drummer Nate Smith felt like the definition of sidemen; dealt only a handful of solos and employed to keep up the groove. At the most intoxicating moments, Smith slyly subverted the order, leading a rhythmic mutiny from within, breaking from the beat to embark on brain-bending polyrhythmic excursions while Rogers watched on in wonder, counting the time in his head.

Diverse tributes were paid to three unlikely influences, with rapper Flavor Flav incongruously evoked in the staccato grunge-metal stomper "Flav," which followed the moody, finger-picked electro-folk dirge "The Mystic (For Fred McDowell)," while the stonking funk-rock strut of set closer "L the Bruce" served a sideways a nod to comedian Lenny Bruce.

More subdued textures—and, even, chord changes—came in the later stages, with a sweetly slumbering, unironic cover of Willie Nelson ballad "Crazy," littered by atmospheric volume swells, astride an equally pastoral wander through "I Fall in Love Too Easily." But it was a second standard which gave the evening its steamiest statement: A genetic reconstruction of "Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are," Thelonious Monk's twisted blues angrily contorted into a funk-rock package which laid bare everything beautiful, brave and baffling at Dice's core: Try as they might, rock guys cannot play jazz, while these jazz guys have willingly chosen to dumb down and embrace a raw, rock n' roll aesthetic. Perhaps inevitably, things cook hottest when Dice truly discarded ideas of genre altogether.


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles


Self Produced



Criss Cross



Criss Cross



Criss Cross


Related Articles

Read The Magpie Salute At The Grand Point North Festival 2018 Live Reviews
The Magpie Salute At The Grand Point North Festival 2018
by Doug Collette
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Chris Isaak at The Paramount in Huntington, NY Live Reviews
Chris Isaak at The Paramount in Huntington, NY
by Christine Connallon
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Detroit Jazz Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Detroit Jazz Festival 2018
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia 2018 Live Reviews
Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia...
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 16, 2018
Read Live From Birmingham: Dinosaur, Meatraffle, Hollywood Vampires, Black Asteroids & Paul Lamb Live Reviews
Live From Birmingham: Dinosaur, Meatraffle, Hollywood...
by Martin Longley
Published: September 16, 2018
Read "CEO Experiment With Kurt Rosenwinkel at The Sugar Club" Live Reviews CEO Experiment With Kurt Rosenwinkel at The Sugar Club
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 11, 2017
Read "Sligo Jazz Project 2018: Days 3-4" Live Reviews Sligo Jazz Project 2018: Days 3-4
by James Fleming
Published: September 5, 2018
Read ""A Love Supreme" with Ravi Coltrane" Live Reviews "A Love Supreme" with Ravi Coltrane
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: October 6, 2017
Read "Pat Metheny at Belfast Waterfront" Live Reviews Pat Metheny at Belfast Waterfront
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 19, 2017