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The UK-based quartet Dice Factory derives its moniker from Luke Reinhardt's novel the The Dice Man, where decision-making for real life situations are devised on chance and risk. On the contrary, the album is well-organized, complementing the extensive latitude of improvisational segments. For those who like comparisons, the ensemble navigates through tricky, odd-metered time signatures, perhaps residing somewhere in between the musical concepts set forth by Henry Threadgill, Steve Coleman's Five Elements and the harmonic complexities of Ornette Coleman. From the onset, the music seizes your attention via a conglomeration of geometrically designed metrics, all executed in unified fashion.
The musicians align entrancing arrangements within a push and pull framework via the buoyant cadences, and tailor fragments of modern mainstream and bop to fit snugly into their synergistic line of attack. They also present an elevated form of art. For example on "Gooch," the quartet opens with a polytonal odd-metered groove with understated tonalities and succinct off-center variations, steered by bassist Tom Farmer and tenor saxophonist Tom Challenger's harmonically attractive unison lines. They dig deep from within amid the brooding lower-register lines, initiating temperate dialogues on "Zout," shaded by pianist George Fogel's dainty voicings. Here, Challenger slices and dices around the perimeter. No doubt, these compositions broadcast quite a bit of pop and sizzle.
Highlights are in abundance, including "Eternal Moment," that is engineered with a complex polyrhythmic baseline. As the band dishes out a hustling and bustling sequence of movements, often executed in hyper-mode. Moreover, Fogel's contrasting chord phrasings inject counterpoint as the music leaves you in a continual state of anticipation, fast-tracked by Challenger's spiralling notes and transitory entries into the free-zone atop Farmer's pumping bass parts. Think of jazz-fusion without the electronic elements. Nonetheless, Dice Factory is not merely a diamond in the rough, but the real deal.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.