On Saturday 18 May, award-winning band, Empirical became our ‘artist in residence’ for the day, running a special set of masterclasses. We were delighted to welcome the band to our home at Southbank Centre, especially since they are one of the many successful alumnus bands to have been borne out of the Tomorrow’s Warriors development programme.
They started off with a Junior Warriors workshop working on some of the group’s recent repertoire, as well as demonstrating particular techniques involved in ensemble playing. It was an amazing experience for the Juniors to watch and play with a band at the top of their game. Junior Warrior member, Solomon Cefai said “It was a great session today. Working with Empirical really helped to build my confidence when I’m soloing”.
Before lunch the band led a session devoted to the art of listening, and how to learn from the jazz greats. This was powerful stuff, and very interesting to hear how each member of the band had taken different things from the same recordings.
After lunch, the instruments were out again, and this time the Youth Warriors Development Group were working on an Empirical composition called Simple Things. This challenged the group to approach their playing in very different ways and Artistic Director, Gary Crosby was so impressed he was already talking about having the piece arranged for our youth orchestra, TWYJO!
Then it was time to jam. Everyone played their part, with a rotating rhythm section always anchored by one of the Empirical musicians. There were some wonderful solos, with everybody’s playing being lifted by the band’s presence and encouragement. At the end, there was just time for one last performance by Empirical, this time playing Gazzelloni by Eric Dolphy and the reception they received nearly took the roof out!
Youth Warrior drummer and Nérija band member, Momoko Gill said, “It was fantastic to have the whole band there. I learnt so much from watching them all working together, and their individual styles complemented each other so well as teachers. It was also really inspiring to hear from Shaney and Nathaniel about their time as Tomorrow’s Warriors and see what can be achieved!”
Empirical’s alto saxophonist and TW Music Leader, Nathaniel Facey said “It was so much fun having all the guys there with me for the day. We’ve got such a tight rapport both as friends and musicians, it meant I could take a step back from being the workshop leader this week. It was great for my regular students to see their own instruments demonstrated at such a high level, and for them to hear what I’m always telling them come from some different mouths for once!”
We look forward to bringing Empirical back for another session soon. Big thanks guys!