Guest Blog: Tony Dudley-Evans on 'One of the most important bands in British jazz history'

Artistic Adviser to Town Hall Symphony Hall's Jazzlines programme, Tony Dudley-Evans, reveals what he believes distinguishes Empirical from other groups.

The Empirical jazz quartet play the CBSO Centre on Saturday 1 June for Jazzlines, shortly before going off to the Rochester Jazz Festival in upstate New York as part of the Made in the UK part of the programme.

They are an excellent choice as a representative of what is happening in the UK today.  They are a quartet that has a very special and unique sound that comes from the combination of Nathaniel Facey’s alto saxophone with Lewis Wright’s vibraphone, playing over the groove created by Shaney Forbes on the drums and Tom Farmer on the double bass. It really is a very distinctive and accessible sound. 

They also fit in with the new wave of British jazz that has captured the interest of international jazz festivals, both in the USA and across Europe. Their presentation is excellent; they look good on stage, each member of the group takes turns to announce the tunes in a very clear and friendly manner, and they always project an image of passion for the music.

One of the most important bands in British jazz history


What distinguishes them from other groups is that they have a deep interest in the history of the music and their music is often inspired by some of the greats of previous years. Clearly they have been inspired by Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, but in their projects they have focussed on other, perhaps less well known, but just as inspiring players such as saxophonist Eric Dolphy and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson.

they have a deep interest in the history of the music

Empirical are always active in promoting their music and in attracting new people to jazz. They have run a number of pop up sessions in the Old Street Tube Station in London and in empty shops in Birmingham and Cheltenham. These have been very effective and attracted large crowds.

Looking to experience Jazz for the first time? Empirical's raw energy make for a perfect introduction to the lively UK Jazz scene, with tickets from just £13.

Tony Dudley-Evans is Artistic Adviser to the Jazzlines programme at Town Hall Symphony Hall as well as Programme Adviser at Cheltenham Jazz Festival.