There’s been an unfortunate large gap since I last posted anything here. Hopefully it won’t happen again but at times recently I’ve been rather lacking in energy due to ill health. It was great to get out and photograph a band again last night and I really enjoyed the gig by Empirical at Birmingham’s Midlands Arts Centre. This was the third time I’ve seen the band, having caught them touring each of their three albums. The first two gigs were very good but last night I thought they had progressed enormously to the point that I’d happily argue the case for them being one of the best bands in the country.
Empirical’s second album explored the music of Eric Dolphy and seemed to me a step on from the band’s first. Now, with the release of their third album, “Elements of Truth”, numbers from which made up most of last night’s set, they really have a sound of their own and have, for me, integrated the vibes playing of Lewis Wright into the ensemble much more. They’ve clearly been listening to a lot of the more cutting edge Jazz coming out of New York. At times I thought I could hear influences from the likes of Steve Lehman and Steve Coleman, indeed Nathaniel Lacey was in the audience for the amazing gig that Steve Lehman did in Birmingham last January. Although I felt you could hear the influences the band do have a sound of their own and it’s a really interesting and entertaining one. All four of the band members are great musicians in their own right but as a band they now sound really wonderful.
The sizeable audience at the mac last night obviously enjoyed the gig, judging by the applause at the end. Those regular members of the Birmingham Jazz audience that I spoke to afterwards were all raving but from what I could hear so were many others. It’s nice to be able to note that there were quite a lot of faces in the audience that I didn’t recognise as Birmingham Jazz “regulars” so hopefully this means there’s a buzz building up about this band.
Peter Bacon will be reviewing the concert on his site The Jazz Breakfast so keep an eye open for that.
I’m now really looking forward to seeing the Birmingham Conservatoire Jazz Orchestra play Gil Evans and Miles Davis’s “Birth of the Cool” and “Sketches of Spain” at the Town Hall on Friday night.