Album: Empirical, Out 'n' In (Naim)

Goatee-stroking, beatnik free-jazz from the rejigged Empirical, with only altoist Nathaniel Stacey, drummer Shaney Forbes and bassist Tom Farmer remaining from the band's lauded debut two years ago.

Nine original tunes and two by Eric Dolphy help to create an impressively out-there sound, although Dolphy's own experiment is now nearly 50 years old. The conversational partnership of Facey's sax with the vibes of Lewis Wright, plus bellowing tenor from guest Julian Siegel, keep things interesting, though it's a close-run thing.