REVIEW – by Trudie Squires
THIS was a real tonic to see and hear such young musicians prove that jazz is in good hands for many years to come. Four of members of Empirical were from Tomorrow’s Warriors, a group that has become accepted as veritable spawning ground for high calibre jazz players. The four, Jay Pelphs (trumpet), Nathaniel Facey (alto-sax), Neil Charles (bass) and Shane Forbes (drums), were joined by the formidable talents of Kit Downes, a consummate and skilful pianist with a wonderful technique. Members of the group wrote all its material with compositions that ranged from adventurous, multi-tempoed themes, straight-ahead swingers and extended arrangements tailored to feature soloists. Phelps played a fine open horn, his lines cleanly executed and fresh sounding. Some of his unison work with alto-saxist Facey was intricate and involved. Facey had a light, breezy tone and used the whole range of his instrument to great effect. Neil Charles’ bass, besides providing a powerful bottom line, also featured in full-bodied melody lines with the piano. Shane Forbes’ capacity as a superb percussionist was evident from the outset; a constant listener, expert punctuator and splendid soloist. Just to prove their pedigree the musicians played some pure, straight-ahead bebop on a much-demanded encore.