Monday, February 22, 2016

Connecting the General Public to Jazz in London's Subway: Empirical's Pop-Up Jazz Lounge

Empirical Pop-up Jazz Lounge Feb 2016

EMPIRICAL
"The coolest of Britain’s young jazz bands."
(Daily Telegraph)
Strives to CONNECT the General Public to Jazz
By Launching a Pop-up Jazz Lounge
in one of London's Busiest Underground Stations


22 - 27 February 2016
Old Street Underground Station




UK jazz super group Empirical announce an exciting new project to take their music direct to Londoners in February 2016. For six days from 22 – 27 February, the band will take over a retail unit in the centre of Old Street Underground Station and transform the space into a pop-up Jazz Lounge. Listeners are invited to visit the lounge for lunchtime and evening commute live sets, with late night sessions scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Early birds will also be able to catch an 8am mid-week performance. All gigs will be free of charge.

Continuing to draw strong influence from the 1960s, the residency series aims to capture the spirit of an era when bands often played several sets a day over many weeks. Road-tested in their highly successful six-day stint at the iconic central London bookshop Foyles in the run-up to the recording of Empirical's new album Connection, due out on 18th March (in the UK), the residency concept gives the band intense practice whilst allowing the audience to witness the creative process as the band develops new material.

Old Street Underground Station was chosen for its high footfall (35,000 daily station users) and the vibrant demographic mix the area attracts. As a result of the collaboration between Transport for London and Appearhere, the station itself has recently become a trendy hotspot featuring ever-changing pop-up shops and a rooftop bar in the centre of Old Street roundabout.

Empirical are also inviting Hackney and Islington schools and community groups to sign up to free educational workshops during the Jazz Lounge, demonstrating the principles of jazz improvisation and giving younger audiences a chance to experience live jazz at more suitable times.

Empirical believe that this radical approach of taking their music directly to Londoners in their daily lives will connect them to new audiences. They aim to take the pop-up Jazz Lounge concept nationwide in 2016/17, setting up in places not normally associated with jazz in major cities across the UK.


[Empirical | photo credit: Tom Barnes]

POP-UP JAZZ LOUNGE SCHEDULE:
Monday 22nd February 2016
1pm Open lunchtime rehearsal
5pm Live performance

Tuesday 23rd February 2016
8am Live performance
1pm Open lunchtime rehearsal
5pm Live performance

Wednesday 24th February 2016
1pm Open lunchtime rehearsal
5pm Live performance

Thursday 25th February 2016
1pm Open lunchtime rehearsal
5pm Live performance
10pm Late night session & jam

Friday 26th February 2016
1pm Open lunchtime rehearsal
5pm Live performance
10pm Late night session & jam

Saturday 27th February 2016
7pm Live performance
10pm Late night session & jam

NOTES:
The pop-up Jazz Lounge project is made possible by support from Arts Council England, the Worshipful Company of Musicians, Trinitiy Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Transport for London and Appearhere.

Hailed as the "coolest of Britain's young jazz bands" by the Daily Telegraph, Empirical are known for their forward-looking, creative music and live performances. Formed in 2007, Empirical's eponymous debut album released in the same year met with universal critical acclaim. After settling on the current line-up in 2008, their second release Out 'n' In, a tribute to Eric Dolphy, let to a MOBO Award in 2010 for Best Jazz Act. On the strength of their third release Elements of Truth (2011), Empirical won the inaugural Golubovich Jazz Scholars fellowship at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. The fellowship resulted in their 2013 double album Tabula Rasa, featuring the Benyounes String Quartet. Their fifth studio album, entitled Connection (Cuneiform Records), is set to be released on 18th March and launched on the same day at London's King's Place.

RECENT PRESS:
The Arts Desk
: "10 Questions for Jazz Quartet Empirical"
Empirical bassist Tom Farmer on musical risk-taking, scientific method and taking jazz to bleary-eyed London commuters
http://www.theartsdesk.com/new-music/10-questions-jazz-quartet-empirical

Jazzwise Magazine: "Empirical Video Exclusive 'The Two-Edged Sword'"
http://www.jazzwisemagazine.com/breaking-news/14092-empirical-video-exclusive-the-two-edged-sword

Jazzwise Magazine: "Empirical Video Exclusive 'Card Clash'"
http://www.jazzwisemagazine.com/breaking-news/14071-video-exclusive-empirical-live-at-foyles

Echoes Magazine: "Pop Up Empirical"
http://echoesmagazine.co.uk/2016/02/09/pop-up-empirical/

JazzFM: "Empirical's pop-up jazz at Old Street station"
http://www.jazzfm.com/news/music-news/empiricals-pop-up-jazz-at-old-street-station/
--

MOBO Award-Winning British Jazz Quartet
– EMPIRICAL –
Delivers a Potent Dispatch from the Post-Bop Frontier with
CONNECTION
a Program of Smart and Searing Originals


EMPIRICAL
CONNECTION

STREAM/SHARE: "The Two-Edged Sword"
stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

Cat. #: Rune 416, Format: CD / Digital Download
Genre: Jazz
US Release Date: February 5, 2016 / UK Release Date: March 18, 2016


While Empirical’s moniker implies cool detachment and disinterested observation, the quartet has become one of Europe’s top jazz ensembles by creating a bracing sound rife with roiling emotion. The band builds on the extroverted improvisational ethos of the 1960s New Thing, embracing oblique harmonies, translucent textures and jagged, quick shifting rhythms. Featuring Nathaniel Facey (alto saxophone), Shaney Forbes (drums), Lewis Wright (vibraphone) and Tom Farmer (bass), Connection is the fifth Empirical album. The band’s first release on the American label Cuneiform, it captures the ensemble at its most pure and potent.

“Each of our previous albums was an experiment, where we included various guests from a string quartet to a pianist to bass clarinet,” Farmer says. “This time we went into a great sounding studio with just the four of us. It’s an accurate representation of what we’re doing now, what our gigs sound like. This is our expression.”

Following the release of its eponymous debut album in 2007, which was produced by British saxophone star Courtney Pine and released on his Destin-E label, Empirical quickly established itself as a creatively-charged crew unafraid to explore jazz’s wild and wooly left field. They threw down the gauntlet with their acclaimed second album, 2009’s Out ‘n’ In (Naim). Produced by rising British saxophonist Jason Yarde, the project offers a highly personal salute to Eric Dolphy that won the band Best Jazz Act in the 2010 MOBO Awards (MOBO stands for Music Of Black Origin).



[Empirical | photo credit: Tom Barnes]

In many ways Connection is a similarly bold statement, a program of original music that unfolds with the kind of intuitive narrative momentum generated by a great set. Opening with Farmer’s concise stop-and-start “Initiate the Initiations,” the album kicks off like a carnival parade driven by Forbes’ deft trap work. Farmer contributes half of the album’s 10 tracks, and his pieces often key on particular emotional states. “Anxiety Society” pits Facey discursive alto against Wright’s calm and cool vibes. By the end of the piece, they are both caught in a labyrinth, searching for a way out. He explores a different kind of disorientation on “Maze,” a piece that sways too and fro in various directions before breaking apart at the end as the center cannot hold.

Facey offers several surprises on “Stay the Course,” the album’s longest track. With three distinct sections, it opens with a brooding theme, moves to an introverted swagger, and resolves with a long skittering vibes solo that’s unlike anything else on the album. Wright contributes some of the album’s most divergent tracks, from the seductive tranquility of “Lethe” to the angular “Mind Over Mayhem,” an abstract, intricately constructed sojourn tips the balance from order to disorder. In a fascinating pairing, Wright’s “It’s Out of Your Hands” follows, closing the album on a soft, insinuating ostinato. It’s another moment of probing contemplation on a musical journey marked by unanticipated swerves and cutting drama.

If Empirical sounds uncommonly grounded in jazz’s experimental tradition, it’s probably because the quartet came together in an environment that treats jazz as a search rather than a destination. The musicians came together while involved in the scene around the acclaimed program Tomorrow’s Warriors, which was founded by prolific Jamaican-born bassist and arranger Gary Crosby (the nephew of guitar legend Ernest Ranglin and a founding member of the hugely influential mid-80s band Jazz Warriors).



[Empirical | photo credit: Tom Barnes]

With its West African-tinged compositions and conventional hard-bop instrumentation of trumpet, sax, piano, bass and drums, Empirical’s 2007 debut album hinted at the band’s potential. But it wasn’t until the horn players and pianist dropped out, Farmer took over the bass chair, and vibraphonist Lewis Wright joined the following year that the quartet’s distinctive sound came sharply into focus. While developing arrangements for a tribute to Eric Dolphy, Empirical delved into his classic 1964 Blue Note album Out To Lunch! featuring vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. The concert was a huge success, but more importantly, the musicians bonded with a sense of purpose driven by devotion to jazz’s defiant ethos.

“We were working really well, taking it really seriously,” Farmer says. “I’d never met guys who took it so seriously. The process of studying together is really what brought us together, and we just carried on doing it.”

The band’s interactive group approach in built on Farmer and Forbes highly kinetic rhythm section tandem, while Facey possesses an instantly recognizable alto tone. But in many ways Wright’s vibes define the group’s sound. From the moment he joined the band, he catalyzed a new way of writing and arranging material. “We all loved the transparency,” Farmer says. “You can hear exactly what everyone’s playing. Lewis is quite a unique player. He gets this warmth on an instrument that can sound quite harsh and metallic. I love having all this room on the bottom, without having to think about a pianist’s left hand.”

After the 2011 release of the band’s third album Elements of Truth (Naim), Empirical won the inaugural Golubovich Jazz Scholars fellowship at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. The residency at the prestigious conservatory led to the band’s collaboration with the all-women string ensemble Benyounes Quartet, who were featured on Empirical’s 2013 double album Tabula Rasa (Naim). The ambitious, often spiritually-tinged project featured some of the band’s most beautiful and complex writing.

Released by Cuneiform in February 2016, it’s no surprise that Connection finds the quartet getting back to basics. Recorded after a week-long run at Foyles Bookshop London, the album captures the raw energy, brash ideas, and volatile group sound that Empirical has built upon the vast territory opened by jazz’s mid-1960s explorers. “That particular period isn’t just a musical inspiration,” Farmer says. “That constant search for meaning in the early avant garde was really powerful. A lot of those ideas are relevant today and they’re essential to our band.”

PROMOTIONAL TRACK
//
If you'd like to share music from this release, please feel free to use the following track:

"The Two-Edged Sword": @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

PURCHASE LINKS
//
ITUNES - AMAZON - BANDCAMP - WAYSIDE MUSIC

ARTIST WEB SITES //
www.empiricalmusic.com - www.facebook.com/Emprical - www.cuneiformrecords.com

EMPIRICAL - TOUR DATES: 2016 //

February 22-27 - London, UK
Old Street Underground Pop-UP Jazz Lounge - London, UK

[For six days, the band will take over a retail unit in the centre of Old Street Underground station and transform the space into an inviting pop-up Jazz Lounge featuring performances and workshops!

Listeners will be invited to visit the lounge for lunchtime and evening commute live sets, with late night sessions scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Early birds will also be able to catch an 8am mid-week performance. All gigs will be free of charge.

To give younger audiences a chance to experience live jazz at more suitable times, Empirical also invites Hackney and Islington school and community groups to sign up to free educational workshops demonstrating the principles of jazz improvisation.]
February 29
UK The Cockpit Theatre
Marylebone
London, UK
Jazz in the Round for BBC Radio 3
March 18
8:00pm
UK Kings Place Hall 2
York Way
London, UK
Empirical UK Album Launch Event
March 19
UK Quarry Theatre
26 St Peter’s Street
Bedford, UK
Consica Jazz Festival
June 1 DE A-Trane
Charlottenburg
Berlin, Germany

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