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Empirical: Out 'N' In

Jakob Baekgaard By

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One of the great things about tributes is that they allow one to revisit and appreciate the influence of artists that deserve more exposure. This is definitely the case with the British group Empirical's tribute to reed player and composer, Eric Dolphy. Out 'n' In was released in 2009 and is still a text book example of how tributes should be done. Instead of playing an album of cover tunes, the group has internalized the influence of Dolphy and created its own original compositions, but for good measure, two compositions from the master are also thrown in the mix. Both of them, "Hat & Beard" and "Gazzelloni," are from Dolphy's iconic Blue Note album Out to Lunch (1964) and prove that it is possible to play experimental jazz music that swings. Especially bassist Tom Farmer knows how to get into a deep groove.

Another influence from Out to Lunch is the inclusion of a vibraphonist, and throughout, Lewis Wright does a worthy job of filling Bobby Hutcherson's shoes. His chiming sounds add extra atmosphere to the music.

The length of the compositions vary from brief interludes to epic explorations, with the ten-minute tour de force "Dolphyus Morphyus" as the highlight. According to the notes, it is based on Dolphy's ideas on harmonic symmetry, but the composition is not a dry illustration of academic theory, but a vibrant tune with a good groove, complex breaks and counterpoints.

Out 'n' In is both clever and cool and underlines that it is possible to unite outside and inside playing. Dolphy himself was an example of this approach and his skillful students in Empirical bring his approach into the 21st century.

Track Listing: Out But In; Hat & Beard; A Conversation; So He Left; A Bitter End For A Tender Giant; Dolphyus Morphyus; Interlude; Gazzelloni; Syndicalism; Another Conversation; Bowden Out.

Personnel: Nathaniel Facey: alto saxophone; Julian Siegel: bass clarinet, tenor saxophone; Lewis Wright: vibraphone; Tom Farmer: double bass; Shaney Forbes: drums.

Title: Out 'N' In | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Naim Label

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CD/LP/Track Review
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