Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved reader experience across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.


Adam Rogers: DICE

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
At some point in time, fusion lost its way. Some say it never really had a firm enough direction, existing only as a symbol of excess, power, and virtuosity to begin with. But those steeped in '70s and early '80s music of this sort know the truth: A perfect blend of rip-roaring lines, one-step-beyond melodicism, feats of daring, and mind-bending grooves took the music to great heights in its first decade, bringing it to a point that's never been equaled or duplicated since.

Instead of living on as a celebration of stylistic convergence and unity, fusion became a dirty word in the decades that followed, disdained by a growing faction of purists, muddied by those who put complexity and athleticism above accessibility, and muddled by those who never really heard the message the right way in the first place. But all is not lost. Guitarist Adam Rogers has delivered DICE, reminding us about the virtues of this much-maligned music while extending it into a new realm of his own creation.

While the aforementioned setup clearly focuses on a specific style of music, the truth is that it doesn't really matter what you call this. Fusion for modernists, post-modern groove art, and electro-hypno jazz are all perfectly fine descriptors that say enough without really saying anything at all. Words just don't suffice. You simply have to hear this to really get it. Rogers, bassist Fima Ephron, and drummer Nate Smith bring their long history together to bear through aggressive gestures, flowing grooves, trippy asides, and searing solos. If the name "Trio of Doom" wasn't already taken, these guys could've owned it, bar none.

While Rogers' position as one of the finest guitarists in the land was established quite some time ago, DICE makes it clear that he's not one to rest on his laurels. With "L The Bruce" Rogers brings a quirky sensibility in line with tight rhythmic choreography, on "Flava" he assaults the senses, through "Elephant" he combines slick lines and mind-blowing technique, and during a trip through the Patsy Cline-associated "Crazy" he puts the big guns away and focuses on the unvarnished beauty of the song as seen through a glassy prism. On one track Rogers might be delivering the solo to end all solos, but on another he might be boiling down the essence of Mississippi Fred McDowell into a melodically engaging, six-minute spiritual raga. You don't know what you're going to get from Adam Rogers from one moment or song to the next, but you know it's going to be something.

There are many points on the album where production work and overdubs add greatly to the mix—the use of samples and loops to thicken the surroundings, a complementary glaze painted atop a trio romp, the underwater additions to "Sea Miner"—but those enhancements shouldn't take away from the raw truths surrounding these three. When you look past all of that, what remains is an incredibly sophisticated power-and-pocket trio that's as intelligent as it is muscular. DICE, not surprisingly, delivers on every level.

Track Listing: Dice; Chronics; Sea Miner; The Mystic (For Fred McDowell); The Interlude; Flava; Elephant; Crazy; L The Bruce; Seven.

Personnel: Adam Rogers: electric guitars, clarinet, bass clarinet, Korg ms 20 synthesizer; Mellotron; Koestler wind organ; Fender Rhodes; percussion; samples, loops; Fima Ephron: electric bass; Nate Smith: drums.

Title: DICE | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Roppongi CD/LP/Track Review Roppongi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Is Life Long? CD/LP/Track Review Is Life Long?
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Contra la indecision CD/LP/Track Review Contra la indecision
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Vessel in Orbit CD/LP/Track Review Vessel in Orbit
by Don Phipps
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Pulse/Quartet CD/LP/Track Review Pulse/Quartet
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: January 19, 2018
Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read "Jazz Marathon 2" CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Marathon 2
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 20, 2017
Read "A Big (Band) Swinging Christmas!" CD/LP/Track Review A Big (Band) Swinging Christmas!
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 25, 2017
Read "Salão Brazil" CD/LP/Track Review Salão Brazil
by John Sharpe
Published: March 30, 2017
Read "Hear & Now" CD/LP/Track Review Hear & Now
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Blueberry Ash" CD/LP/Track Review Blueberry Ash
by Barry O'Sullivan
Published: August 6, 2017
Read "Welcome to Swingsville!" CD/LP/Track Review Welcome to Swingsville!
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 26, 2017