Dave Fox

Home Again

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Straight from the heart of the European free jazz scene in theory, American keyboardist Dave Fox and his quartet run thick as thieves through fearless improvisations with little regard to structure, time, or boundaries of any type. On occasion you may recognize hints of the Canterbury fusion scene, elements culled from Cecil Taylor or Derek Bailey, and motifs based on daily rat race life woven through the fibers of this heady, spontaneous music. It's thick and dense, with spaces filled up and the plate piled high, yet there are times for restraint and subterranean moods that identify being home again as the place where Fox and his group have always been. Guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil is an enormous asset to the concept of Fox, as his wild excursions or concentrated, jet-black ink marks on the music make it both more distinctive and harder to pin down. Democracy is the key, as scattered and fractured lines with the skronking keyboard of Fox signify the opening track, "Leaving the City," with a startling solo from Eisenbeil. Sparser but still broken up internally, "Of All the Tapas Bars in the World" is not as intense, with harpsichord-like tones from Fox, while "The Well Prepared Suitcase" is scratchier and noisy as mousy, scurrying sounds from the pianist dart about. "Airports & Me" is far more playful with punchy guitar and probing bass by Pat Lawrence, "An Encounter with a Street Troll" introduces a mystery train organ to the gurgling proceedings with Eisenbeil copping a Wes Montgomery feel in spurts, while his choppy chords turn echoed and serene in "Home Again, for Now," intensified and sky church à la Jimi Hendrix. The most distinctive composition, "Nightfall in Taos, New Mexico," is a quiet storm brewing in the Four Corners region and slot canyons of the Southwest U.S., very much a labyrinthine, under-the-radar piece. Those who are timid about out and out spontaneous composition will need to find a seat in another theater, but those who can understand how symmetry works under pressure will appreciate this music, made with deep feelings of freedom and not necessarily dictated by emotionalism.