The emergence of Empirical on the London jazz scene in the middle of the current decade brought with it a lot of extravagant praise of the often burdensome ‘great jazz hope’ variety.

The band have undergone major shifts in personnel since winning the EBU/European Jazz Competition at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2007, but the award-winning habit remains – drummer and co-founder Shaney Forbes recently picked up the Worshipful Company of Musicians annual award for Young Jazz Musicians.

The new line-up retains Forbes and alto saxophonist Nathanial Facey alongside Lewis Wright on vibes and Tom Farmer on bass (pianist George Fogel has also been playing with them at times). The re-vamped band recently issued their second album, Out’n’In (Naim Jazz), with Julian Siegel guesting on bass clarinet and tenor sax.

The album is a spirited tribute to Eric Dolphy, and features nine of the group’s own Dolphy-influenced originals alongside arrangements of the American saxophonist’s compositions ‘Hat & Beard’ and ‘Gazzelloni’.

The new instrumentation and Dolphy-inspired sound give the album a notably different sound to its acclaimed predecessor, but clearly suggests the band remains in rude health as a creative unit, despite key musicians like Jay Phelps and Kit Downes having moved on (as it happens, pianist Downes has his own trio album – featuring Scottish bassist Calum Gourley – due for early November release).

City Halls (Recital Room), Glasgow, Sat 14 Nov; Perth Theatre, Mon 16 Nov; Tolbooth, Stirling, Wed 18 Nov

The Monday Night Thing: Empirical - Tribite to Eric Dolphy

Multi award-winning young British quartet Empirical pay tribute to American saxophonist Eric Dolphy with music written and inspired by this pioneering figure. Over 14's.


This fresh young jazz quartet incorporate everything from African and Cuban traditional music to classical music into their sound.

Post a comment