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...

115

Benoit Delbecq and Fran: Dice Thrown

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Whenever jazz musicians make a duet record, its success or failure ultimately depends on how well they can join together. Interactive conversation and a shared sense of discovery can make for a brilliant record, while unbridled extroversion or poor attention spans can render it dismal. It's all in the fragile bridge between the parts.

In the case of Dice Thrown, the interaction between French pianist Benoit Delbecq and Canadian clarinetist François Houle—who joined forces five years ago on Nancali—is many layers deep, leading to a sense of momentum and understated density. Upon superficial examination, there are no obvious themes or simple call-and-response units to be found. But as the record unfolds, it reveals a shared enthusiasm for the wide variety of timbres available through each instrument, channeled through a serene medium where the players celebrate subdued textures as much as simple melodies.

These pieces are essentially tone poems, drawing from chamber music of the modern classical tradition but introducing an interactive improvisational flow. The (seeming) introduction of a chance element at times makes the record that much more unpredictable.

The fifth tune, "Bogolandes," serves as an apt example of the ways these two players develop and expand a theme. The tune leads off with Delbecq's muted, percussive attack (albeit very quiet) on the prepared piano. These notes flow in a sort of circular motion, evolving in a cyclical time continuum like the drums of West Africa. Delbecq bounces between high and low pitches, spacing them unevenly within a broader polyrhythmic context. Houle joins in very early with held tones, floating gently above the ripples. As the pianist reaches freely into the tonal spectrum, Houle boosts the energy level through faster, sharper playing with more overtones. He harmonizes using two instruments simultaneously. Soon both players have entered a realm where scenery passes by rapidly, having traveled from shifting landscapes into outright motion. And then it's over. The next tune opens with a bell-clear melody.

Though both players utilize a variety of timbres and tones throughout this record, Dice Thrown retains a sense of darkness and serenity. That, combined with their continuing fascination with wave-like ripples of sound, turns the record into a sort of twilight aquatic adventure. When musicians have the insight to hold back and let silence speak as loudly as notes, they gain the ability to project emotion in subtle and unpredictable ways. And in the end, that process can only work when the artists apply as much listening as speaking, as much attention as expression. Such is the case on Dice Thrown.

Track Listing: Shaw; Oliveira et la Sybille; Ezerville; Bogolandes; C-Strang; Apnesie; Dice Talk; Raccourci; Trois pour les Gil; Des Jetes.

Personnel: Benoit Delbecq: piano and prepared piano; Fran

Title: Dice Thrown | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Radio
My Favourite Things
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Profiles
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Spots On Stripes

Spots On Stripes

Clean Feed Records
2018

buy
Ink

Ink

Clean Feed Records
2016

buy
Ink

Ink

Clean Feed Records
2015

buy
 

Because She Hoped

Songlines Recordings
2012

buy
 

Circles and Calligrams

Songlines Recordings
2012

buy
 

The Sixth Jump

Songlines Recordings
2011

buy

Upcoming Shows

Related Articles

Read Sheer Reckless Abandon Album Reviews
Sheer Reckless Abandon
By John Kelman
May 19, 2019
Read Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ the Z Album Reviews
Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ the Z
By Jack Bowers
May 19, 2019
Read To My Brothers Album Reviews
To My Brothers
By Victor L. Schermer
May 19, 2019
Read Social Music Album Reviews
Social Music
By Roger Farbey
May 19, 2019
Read Circle Inside The Folds Album Reviews
Circle Inside The Folds
By John Eyles
May 18, 2019
Read Momentum Album Reviews
Momentum
By Jerome Wilson
May 18, 2019
Read Bonsai Club Album Reviews
Bonsai Club
By Roger Farbey
May 18, 2019