The Dave Fox Group featuring Bruce Eisenbeil – Home Again (2008)

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by S. Victor Aaron

Dave Fox teaches piano courses at Greensboro College in North Carolina, but the stuff he’s puttin’ down with his combo The Dave Fox Group couldn’t be any more opposite of what you’d find in a classroom setting. It simply has too much panache for formal academic study.

The DFG, consisting of Fox on various keyboards, Jon Marc Ryan Dale on drums and Pat Lawrence on bass, make music that doesn’t bend for convention. Heck, it doesn’t bend for anything. It’s free-form jazz that finds kinship with Cecil Taylor, Paul Bley and just about anybody who’s recorded for ESP-Disk. They compose their songs collectively on the spot, most likely as the tape is rolling.

Underneath all that chaos, Fox & Co. are playing close attention to tonal colorings and ever-shifting moods. Fox himself uses Fender Rhodes, Hohner Clavinet, Hammond B-3 and a Yamaha Grand Piano in ways that they were never used before, making the sound a little louder, a little more aggressive and a lot more unpredictable…making it almost like a keyboard-based version of Bruce Eisenbeil’s Totem>.

For the DFG’s third release Home Again, they did in fact bring in Eisenbeil to add his one-of-a-kind guitar to the mix, and the results are blessedly explosive. Whenever the Master Timbralist is added to the equation, the whole dynamics of the music changes; Eisenbeil is one of the few guitarists today, like Bill Frisell, who’s capable of doing that consistently.

Fox (and the rest of the band) adapts his own style to counter, accentuate and bob and weave with Eisenbeil. He prefers to make his mark more subtly, often providing shadings and textures that sometimes set direction and often is the guy holding everything together.

Highlights can be found everywhere. “The Well Prepared Suitcase” starts as a study in minimalism but climaxes with a dual between Fox’s rootless grand piano and Eisenbeil’s string plucks and scrapes. The epic “An Encounter With A Street Troll” goes down so many alleys and finds an adventure in each one. The kinetic, unhinged “Of All The Tapas Bars In The World…” and the sweet, tonal but still unencumbered “Home Again, For Now,” are my personal faves.

Fox has been selling Home Again on his own, but he’s recently found a distributor, the German label Konnex Records, so hopefully this bold, brash CD will be easier to obtain. In the meantime, just follow the link below for obtaining one of the more interesting, inspiring and energetic whack jazz records to come across this desk since, well, the one by Totem>.

If there’s one thing to learn from this record, it’s this: not all college professors are the meek, bookish types. Then again, Home Again is not a class.

It’s a clinic.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on,, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at
S. Victor Aaron
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