Empirical – Elements of Truth
(Naim naimcd 168. CD Review by Chris Parker
Following up their acclaimed Eric Dolphy-inspired Out’n’In, Empirical’s Elements of Truth builds on the central musical relationship (Nathaniel Facey‘s alto/Lewis Wright‘s vibes) of that album to create a more varied, multi-textured soundscape on this one, the band sound tellingly augmented by guest pianist George Fogel‘s discreet but vital fills and embellishments.
The band’s material, too (mostly compositions by bassist Tom Farmer, but with two by Facey and one by Wright), draws on a wider variety of styles than their previous effort, embracing everything from (cultured) hip-hop to contemporary classical music (Messiaen – as with many new-millennium jazz musicians – namechecked by Farmer in recent interviews) and post-bop jazz (pianist Vijay Iyer ditto).
The result is a many-hued, subtly shifting, pleasingly restless and absorbing set, driven by the vibrant, precise drumming of Shaney Forbes (as adept at relatively straight-ahead jazz rhythms as he is at rattling out hip-hop beats) and Farmer’s lithe bass, all spearheaded by the searing alto of Facey and given memorable atmosphere and texture by the versatile and dexterous Wright (who also provides one of the most striking mood-setting introductions to an album you’re likely to hear this year).
Another elegant, polished but sparky album from one of UK jazz’s most sophisticated bands.