Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending the Newport Jazz Festival (oh... now its gone corporate, so its the JVC Jazz Festival in Newport). What was most striking to me about the festival is how jazz has branched out into so many diverse influences. African, Latin, Carribean and progressive rock sounds have permeated jazz in a profound way. The traditional jazz quintet was a rare sight at the festival.

However, one of those traditional groups put on an absolutely outstanding performance. They were a young British quintet called Empirical. Their compositions are complex, often having solos that could get quite free-form, yet firmly rooted in the underlying structure that the composition was built upon. All of these players have the chops to excel at playing in the hard-bop, free blowing or funky musical forms. Many of the compositions play like suites, with several movements knitted together with thoughtful bridges or transitional solos. Their self-titled album is a good representation of what we heard at the Festival. The album has garnered critical acclaim and awards. The track Plantir, a 16 minute track shows the complexity of the compositions, free soloing, and the ability to bring it back home with a swinging-funky beat.

Photo Gallery of Newport Jazz Festival. (note: if you have additional pictures of the Newport Jazz Festival, I invite you to upload your photos to the gallery.)

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