Empirical - Empirical

Destin-E Records 777 001001001    ****
Jay Phelps (t), Nathaniel Facey (as), Kit Downes (p), Neil Charles (b) and Shaney Forbes (d). Rec. 2006-07
Empirical - Empirical
could turn out to be one of the most important bands in UK jazz history. Their debut album is outstanding. It’s not just another jazz quintet, but a proper band, encompassing jazz’s past, present and future. You can feel the strong influence of Ornette throughout the entire project, but the freedom is structured. There’s a constant African undercurrent, especially on ‘The Deep’ and the Ali Farka Toure composition, ‘Tulumba’. There’s even a section of Forbes’ haunting ‘Kite’, which wouldn’t sound out of place on an ECM record. Phelps’ ‘Clapton Willow’, on the other hand, has an almost Ellingtonian dignity. Facey’s passionate playing, with occasional hints of both Colemans and (on ‘Blessings’) even Cannonball, still has its own sound.

Phelps, too, has a sound of his own. It’s peppery in places, very variedly rhythmic with glimpses of Booker Little, perhaps and Don Cherry. Charles and Forbes have their own things going and adapt so quickly to whatever direction the soloists and/or arranged passages take, often when you least expect them. One of the many highlights is the lengthy, multi-mood ‘A Tyrant’s Tale’ by Phelps, with tender then Cherry-like trumpet over sombre chords from Downes, whose playing is so fresh on every track. British Album of the Year! Tony Hall

This review is taken from Jazzwise Issue #110, to read the most comprehensive review section of jazz and beyond and receive a  Free CD, subscribe here…