Out ‘N’ In

Avant garde quartet Empirical release their sophomore effort, Out ‘N’ In from Naim Jazz Records paying tribute to Eric Dolphy with nine Dolphy-inspired original compositions and two new arrangements of his works, “Hat And Beard” and “Gazzelloni.” Empirical are modern jazz architects displaying an art-inspired penmanship in Nathaniel Facey’s saxophone doodles and an eclectic freestyle versing in Lewis Wright’s vibraphone twitters. With a rhythm section that consists of drummer Shaney Forbes and double bass player Tom Falmer, Empirical rely on sheer improvisation to direct every curve of their arrangements as the members pervade an off the cuff voicing which produces completely spontaneous eruptions and ad-lib dialogues.

The instruments are pulled into one another creating uneven lines and obscure patterns like for “Out But In,” keeping the music’s flights and descents unpredictable as Facey’s saxophone interlaces with the sedate ripples of the rhythm section. Odd time signatures harness an eccentric-tilt as Falmer’s bass burrows deep in the lower register. The music moves in esoteric circles in the arrangements for Dolphy’s tunes “Hat And Beard” and “Gazzelloni” with the saxophone bulging and receding as intervals of flickering vibes are interspersed along the melodic progressions. The soft rustling of Falmer’s bass in “Interlude” produces a somber aura which turns to a fiery march in “Syndicalism.” The jazz noir shadowing of the instruments in “Bowden Out” and “A Bitter End For A Tender Giant” has an eerie voicing that is poetically versed and enigmatic, while the vibrant exchanges between Facey’s saxophone and special guest Julian Siegel on clarinet in “A Conversation” is stimulating as the two wiggle and nudge each other forward.

Empirical rummage through so many innovative ideas in their arrangements that is hard to believe that the quartet has any more to offer, but their energy seems limitless and their inclination for the obscure opens up their potential to further their creativity. The quartet’s dining on steady servings of post-bop musings had a direct impact on their freestyle playing, and strengthened their connection to their brethren. Being true to their name “empirical,“ their music stems from their observations, experiences, and experimental leanings. Produced by Jason Yarde, Out ‘N’ In is driven by a desire to further avant garde art and to keep it relatable to contemporary audiences.

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Susan Frances