Empirical: Out 'n' In

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Empirical: Out 'n' In Empirical's eponymous debut album, a stew of mutated bop produced by saxophonist Courtney Pine for his own Destin-E label, created a bushfire of enthusiasm in the UK. That was in 2007, and since then the group has made international strides too, appearing at the Newport Jazz Festival, the New York Jazz Festival, the North Sea Jazz Festival and at the Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto and Montreal jazz festivals. The band hasn't headlined yet, but on the evidence of Out 'n' In, that can only be a matter of time. This follow-up is an even bigger blast than Empirical.

Out 'n' In is dedicated to Eric Dolphy. It includes two Dolphy tunes, "Hat & Beard" and "Gazzelloni," both from the alto saxophonist and bass clarinetist's landmark album, Out To Lunch (Blue Note, 1964), and here revisited with 100% conviction. They're joined by six group originals cut from the same template, and three brief, Dolphy-esque, free improv interludes. The joints are seamless, on a disc which twists and turns and takes off at unexpected angles in recognizable, but not slavish, Dolphy style.

The album was produced by up and coming saxophonist Jason Yarde, and features a line-up which has changed substantially since the first album. Alto saxophonist Nathaniel Facey and drummer Shaney Forbes are the only holdovers from Empirical's core quintet, and are joined by vibraphonist Lewis Wright and bassist Tom Farmer. Lewis' presence lends itself well to the material, of course, his glowing lines a reminder Bobby Hutcherson's contributions to Out To Lunch. Fitting right in too is the immaculate, Byronic playing of guest artist Julian Siegel, heard on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet.

Farmer's charging "Out But In," inspired by Dolphy's "Mrs Parker Of KC," is a triple shout-out: to the blues, to Dolphy and, via his mother, to bop saxophone giant Charlie Parker. It's the most relentlessly intense track and sets the tone for much of what follows. Two more introspective tunes, Facey's "A Bitter End For A Tender Giant" and Farmer's "Bowden Out," positioned respectively halfway through and at the end of the disc, show how effectively the band still cook at lower temperatures. "Tender Giant" is a love cry to Dolphy and a lament for the manner of his passing (while touring in Europe, Dolphy collapsed into a diabetic coma, but was left untreated in hospital on the assumption that, as a black American jazz musician, he had overdosed on drugs). "Bowden Out" carries less baggage, taking the set out on a restful, prettily tuneful note.

Out 'n' In is a great album, and Empirical's rebooted lineup is one to look out for.

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.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Naim Label | Style: Modern Jazz

Related Video


More Articles

Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Akua's Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Aerials" CD/LP/Track Review Aerials
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: April 20, 2016
Read "Vanheusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen" CD/LP/Track Review Vanheusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 2, 2016
Read "Do Not Disturb" CD/LP/Track Review Do Not Disturb
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 26, 2016
Read "Canto América" CD/LP/Track Review Canto América
by James Nadal
Published: March 7, 2016
Read "Prog Noir" CD/LP/Track Review Prog Noir
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 3, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!