Besides being a jazz specialist pianist Dave Fox is also classically trained, although you might not guess it by listening to Home Again, the third CD by The Dave Fox Group after 2004’s Gatewalk and 2007’s If These Songs Could Talk. Comprising the leader on grand piano, clavinet, Fender Rhodes and Hammond B-3 organ plus Bruce Eisenbeil (guitar), Pat Lawrence (bass) and Jon Marc Ryan Dale (drums), this incarnation of the ensemble couldn’t play a minute of formulaic music if one threatened them at gunpoint. Impertinent approaches to improvisation pullulate all over the record and outrageously climactic manifestations of lawlessness abound, with just the slightest exception of the conclusive – and vaguely, distantly tonal – “Home Again, For Now”, whose character mostly derives from jangling chords and overdriven strategies from Eisenbeil’s heavily processed axe.
An opposite example is constituted by “The Well-Prepared Suitcase”: the musicians strive to implement a rather unstructured type of instant invention without caring too much about the ribaldry that some of these semi-educated noises might evoke, generating a rebellious feeling in the (until then) unperturbed listener. “An Encounter With A Street Troll” – what a fabulous title for a piece – is probably the ideal symbolization of the band’s risky demeanour, chock full as it is of sudden increases in the fury-to-calmness ratio and striking exuberance at one and the same time.
Eisenbeil’s clear-sightedness in alternating distortion and purity during incessant circumventions of normalcy is as always astonishing – cultivated punk, if there was ever a better representative – and Fox receives wholeheartedly whatever is thrown his way, counterattacking with idiosyncratic commitment bathed in the sound of instruments from the 60s. Lawrence and Dale smirk appreciatively, swapping footnotes and oddball permutations that hypothetically should never be allowed in a “rhythm section” (ha!).
But this is the fractal tempo of real life’s enigmatic attractiveness, and – contrarily to the welcoming seduction of hypocrite gleaming – this raw charm entices more and more with each listen.