In 2020, we were delighted to welcome award-winning British jazz quartet Empirical as our new Nimmo Artists in Residence.

Reflecting on the first two concerts of their residency at WMC in February, with former Nimmo Artist in Residence, Gwilym Simcock, and in March, with our young players in the Wiltshire Youth Jazz Orchestra, the group shared this exclusive update...

Empirical, together with WYJO, had the slightly dubious privilege to be the last to perform at WCM on Sunday 15th March before the Centre had to shut due to the coronavirus situation.

We had been gearing up to the weekend of rehearsals with Mike Daniels and the young WYJO players for some time, so we were happy to be able to go ahead. But the knowledge that this would probably be the last show for a while for us as individuals and as a band certainly gave the performance extra emotional intensity and tension.

The knowledge that this would probably be the last show for a while for us as individuals and as a band certainly gave the performance extra emotional intensity and tension."

Since the lockdown, we’ve been trying to figure out ‘socially distanced’ ways of creating new music together – not an easy task as it turn out, especially as our creative process relies on being in the same room together and experimenting with compositional ideas as a band.

Several shows we had lined up in April and May to record a live album were cancelled due to the social distancing measures, which meant that we’ve had to shelve these plans for now. Our Pop-up Jazz Lounge during Bath Festival has also been postponed to next year.

We had also been looking forward to the rare opportunity of spending a solid three days together in a retreat at WMC at the end of this month. This was to create new music for a commission, which we planned to premiere this autumn at WCM as part of our Nimmo Residency. We are hopeful that by then the social distancing measures will be eased and we’ll be able to return to the WMC for the final performance of our residency. 

Live venues, especially small and medium size, are the lifeblood of the UK jazz scene, which we have been lucky enough to be a part of for over ten years. Jazz thrives on live performance and allows us to stretch our musical muscles and be creative in the moment. We know from our formal performances and our pop-up shows how much audiences enjoy being part of these kinds of unique moments of musical improvisation and experimentation. 

Jazz thrives on live performance and allows us to stretch our musical muscles and be creative in the moment."

We’re grateful to everyone who has been supporting their local venues, and in particular WMC, through donating their ticket fees and making one-off donations. It all helps with ensuring venues can resume their programmes and musicians are able to make a living again from live performances when we come out of the other side of the lockdown.

In the meantime, we hope you stay healthy and happy!

Empirical