• Doors Open: 7:30 pm
  • Event Start: 8:00 pm
  • Theatre
  • Admission: £18
  • Under 25: £10
Additional details:
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Empirical, the astonishing, award-winning UK jazz ensemble, come to NAC as part of their 2024 album tour, marking the release of the acclaimed record Wonder Is The Beginning (on Whirlwind Recordings) in March this year.

The band’s line-up, featuring Nathaniel Facey (alto sax), Tom Farmer (double bass) and Shaney Forbes (drums) has remained unchanged for 15 years, but for this gig guitarist David Preston, whose own performance at our venue in May 2023 drew big crowds and even bigger praise, replaces vibraphonist Lewis Wright, adding some different, beguiling colours and textures to the enthralling mix.

Empirical’s trademark combination of complex, thoughtful writing and spontaneous improvisation is enabled by the absolute trust that comes from years of collective music making, and is at the heart of what makes the band stand out consistently on the musical landscape. Come and see them re-take their rightful place at the epicentre of the domestic jazz scene! Also featured will be re-interpretations of music from Empirical’s 2022 EP, Like Lambs.

Wonder Is The Beginning is a mature musical statement that shows the band’s fire is still undimmed and their commitment to maintaining the legacy of jazz while forging their own unique path is as strong as ever.

The band was born in 2007, its eponymous debut earning Jazzwise’s album of the year award. Farmer and Wright then replaced the departing Jay Phelps, Kit Downes and Neil Charles, taking the outfit, by now a quartet, with founders Facey and Forbes still at the helm, in a completely fresh and compelling direction, inspired by the likes of Eric Dolphy and Wolverhampton’s own international jazz legend Dave Holland. Together they established a redoubtable reputation in the jazz world, gliding through the trickiest music.

In a four-star review of the new album, Jazzwise writer Selwyn Harris, praising main writer Farmer’s ‘attractive, dreamy, mood-setting themes’, said: “The ensemble interaction to some extent can be said to be derived from the open-ended, free bop-ish approach of Wayne Shorter’s late quartet. The urgency and tight-knit ensemble play are still there, even if it’s a more mature, reflective development on previous albums.”

Chris May, reviewing the record for All About Jazz, saluted the band’s ‘post-hard bop, mostly high impact, avant-garde jazz’.

Stephen Graham, writing on the Marlbank site, said it was ‘a mature and compelling listen and it is state of the art Empirical from a band of free thinkers grounded in orthodox modern-jazz traditions that have evolved into places only they know via original compositional input. Certainly a very humane and honest sound .’

This exciting gig is presented in association with Jazz At Wolverhampton.

Empirical, around for an astonishing 15 years already, are one of the great British contributions to European jazz Downbeat, 2022
Empirical is still a reliable touchstone of contemporary British jazz at its most sophisticated. Jazzwise, 2022

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