Recommended: FOX + Chris Cheek – “Pelican Blues”


The first thing FOX does is set the scene.  They present their quirky lyricism with “Moonshine” and “Cliff Tone.”  Their penchant for enchanting melodies is rolled out with “Fox on the Run” and “Canoë.”  These statements are plenty enjoyable on their own merits.  However, from that point on, the Fox trio of guitarist Pierre Perchaud, bassist Nicolas Moreaux and drummer Jorge Rossy exploit all that groundwork by setting the two forms of expression off one another, like tides competing for primacy over the ocean.  The transitions back and forth instigate a perpetually adjusting method of attention, where the quirky lyricism demands a view from a distance to best appreciate its curious motion, while the deep melodicism is the kind of thing to become immersed in completely.

The presence of Chris Cheek on Pelican Blues goes a long way to explaining the accomplishment of this particular sonic feat.  The saxophonist has a proven talent at drawing out a clear beauty from the most acerbic environments, and conversely, bringing some humor to moments where the melodic intensity threatens to become overly dramatic.  He and Perchaud in particular achieve a unity that adds a firework display of texture to the simplest melodic phrasing.

The deep moodiness of “2am” collides with the sunny attitude of title-track “Pelican Blues” and the effusive “Mardi Gras Bubble Gumbo,” in turn, has the shadow of the solemn “Spirit of St. Louis” following it around.  The tonal echoes from song to song, passage to passage, resonate like mad, even to the point where subsequent listens lead to revised interpretations of where particular pieces land in the spectrum of changes.  It gets to where no one song ever truly ends until the album has played its final notes.  That’s pretty cool.

Their eponymous 2016 debut Fox was pretty damn good, but Pelican Blues is a serious step up.

Your album personnel:  Pierre Perchaud (guitar, banjo), Nicolas Moreaux (bass), Jorge Rossy (drums, vibraphone), Chris Cheek (tenor & soprano saxes) and guests: Vincent Peirani (accordion), Christophe Panzani (tenor sax).

Released on the Jazz & People label.

Listen to more of the album on the label’s Bandcamp page.

Music from Paris, France.

Available at:  Bandcamp | Amazon