Not only have the jazzheads been after the new album by Empirical for some time, when it does arrive there’s the bonus of having it produced by Jason Yarde and featuring Special Guest Julian Siegel, what more can you want?
You may recall that a couple of years ago their debut album won Jazzwise magazine’s Album Of The Year. As impressive as that is, by all accounts the new album by the band – Nathaiel Facey (alto saxophone), Lewis Wright (vibraphone), Tom Falmer (double bass) and Shaney Forbes (drums) – is even better!
Out ‘n’ In is a collection of originals influenced by Eric Dolphy and a couple of cover versions. Now whether the covers are ‘out’ or the Farmer/Facey/Facey-Spiegel tracks are ‘in’ or vice versa, it’s difficult to say. I’m sure that when ‘Hat & Beard’ turned up on Dolphy’s classic album Out To Lunch, popular opinion would have been split on the out/in issue but it’s safe to say that Empirical’s version is true to the original without being totally copyist.
Whilst on the subject, ‘So He Left’ (written by Facey) does sound familiar of past Blue Note quartet combos with vibes, sax, bass and drums; not exactly free (although ‘A Bitter End For A Tender Giant’ sounds like it should be, it’s like the Jazz Britannia version of free jazz that’s classy modal – Siegel on bass clarinet is for Emantive to die for). And when Wright’s vibes take over, it’s like one of those all to rare moments when Milt Jackson gets it spot on (or even more regularly when our favourites Roy Ayers, Roger Beaujolais and Bobby Hutcherson hit it). Not only that, the bass and drums are proper jazz here and you’d be a fool to miss this band live if they are anywhere near you (see links below for ever excellent Cheltenham Jazz Festival where they are playing this Sunday).
And if you were in any doubt that these guys are really free, ‘Dolphyus Morphyus’ is it. Another one of Facey’s tunes and you don’t need to wonder who the inspiration was for near on 11 minutes. And watch out for the Mulatu reference towards the end.
So whilst it’s been a while since I’ve played Out To Lunch, its definitely in the top 20 jazz album of all time and Empirical are proper Dolphy fans with the next track, a cover of Dolphy’s ‘Gazzelloni’ (check out the drums and bass on this one).
Whilst taking of heroes and Jazz Britannia, the last track is called ‘Bowden Out’ that’s possibly a play on words but more likely a nod to Chris Bowden that’s moody modal and the track on where it all comes together (if that’s not an insult to a ‘free’ culture) is Farmer’s ‘Syndicalism’.
Those with sharp eyes and ears will spot that Yarde and Facey are both involved with the incredible Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA as last seen on Jools Holland’s Later a couple of weeks ago (and see review of the Poole gig HERE), Facey playing on Billy Jenkins’ I Am A Man From Lewisham and insiders tell me that Forbes has recently been recording with Robert Mitchell‘s band Panacea!
Back to Empirical, even though there’s a couple of “conversations” between Facey/Siegel, this is not a goatee strokin’ album. If you’ve got a goatee, it’s time to shave it off and get into the new jazz of Out ‘n’ In.
Hectic Mix nominations: ‘Hat & Beard’, ‘A Bitter End For A Tender Giant’, ‘Dolphyus Morphyus’, ‘Gazzelloni’, ‘Syndicalism’, ‘Bowden Out’.
Reviewed: Empirical – Out ‘n’ In (Naim Jazz) Cat. No. naimcd139 Release date: 2010
1. Out But In (5:18)
2. Hat & Beard 8:15
3. A Conversation 1:48
4. So He Left 5:32
5. A Bitter End For A Tender Giant 6:49
6. Dolphyus Morphyus 10:43
7. Interlude 0:43
8. Gazzelloni 5;46
9. Syndicalism 6:35
10. Another Conversation 1:17
11. Bowden Out 6:02
15th Barclays Cheltenham Jazz Festival 28 April-3 May 2010
Empirical – Sunday 2 May 2010 at 12:00 pm (75 mins) Event J25 at Cheltenham Town Hall Pillar Room Price: ¬£10 (member price: ¬£8) “Firmly established as one of the UK’s best young bands, Empirical have delighted international audiences with their absorbing and enriching performances. Making their Barclays Cheltenham Jazz Festival debut, they play tribute to the legacy of legendary saxophonist Eric Dolphy, performing tracks from Out ‘n’ In – the follow-up to their self-titled debut album that took the jazz world by storm in 2007.”
Lineup: Nathaniel Facey (alto saxophone), Tom Farmer (bass), Shane Forbes (drums), Lewis Wright (vibraphone), George Fogel (piano)
Eric Dolphy (Born: June 20, 1928 – Died: June 29, 1964) American jazz alto saxophonist, flautist and bass clarinetist