IN jazz as in so many other branches of the arts, Swindon punches well above its weight.

That’s why the Cheltenham-based Kim Cypher looks forward to every gig in the town. The last Swindon date for the Kim Cypher Quintet - husband Mike is the drummer - was at the Royal Oak six days ago.

It was a warm-up to a launch tour for forthcoming second album Love Kim X - to which she is putting the finishing touches with respected Swindon sound engineer Juango Lopez-Vidal.

“Swindon is very lucky,” she said, “because for any music scene like that to thrive you need dedicated people to run it.

“It was run initially by Dave Knight, who was so well-respected by jazz lovers. When he sadly passed away it was taken over by a lady who used to help him, Evie Em-jay.”

The jazz sessions run by Dave, who died in 2016, at the former Baker Street venue in Old Town, became the stuff of local legend, and are now held at the Royal Oak on Tuesday evenings.

Kim has fond memories of Dave, who was the key driving force of Swindon jazz for many years. “He had a real influence on me. I was desperate to get a gig at what was Baker Street. It was his main jazz event.

“He only put on the top musicians. I kept phoning him, saying, ‘Could you put me on?’ It was a really long process of having to prove yourself. He put me on in a lot of other venues first and eventually said, ‘We’re going to give you Baker Street.’

“It was one of those proud moments - ‘I’ve made it to Baker Street!’

“It’s not an easy time for live music generally because people don’t always make the effort to go out - and people sometimes can’t afford to go out.

“But the Swindon scene seems to be thriving.”

Kim credits Evie with much of that success, and with ensuring the local jazz scene continues to draw plenty of interest from performers an audiences alike.

“It’s like walking into a room full of friends - it’s like a community. Everybody knows everybody and chats to everybody.”

Kim’s love of music and making music began in early childhood. She first learned the recorder and then piano after her parents bought an instrument one Christmas.

“I could just automatically play a tune by ear. I just knew it was something I loved.

“I remember when I first got a clarinet. Without having a lesson I just sort of knew how to play it.

“It was a natural thing in me, this love for music, but I think my real passion started when I started playing sax. I just knew that that was what I wanted and needed to play.”

Kim’s saxophone influences include a variety of greats, while her singing draws from other inspirations, notably Billie Holliday.

Kim met her husband when both were members of the Gloucestershire Youth Jazz Orchestra. “We were aged 15. He was the drummer and I was the sax player. We became the best of friends and have never looked back since.

“I think that because it was both of us our lives continued with music.”

By about 10 years ago, both Kim and Mike had successful mainstream careers; he was a regional bank manager and she the head of a school music department.

In spite of that, they decided to become full-time professional musicians.

The first album, Make Believe, came in 2016.

The second, Love Kim X, had its genesis in a request from a fan at a live gig for a recording of a favourite song, Etta James’ At Last. An album springing from a simple conversation reinforced Kim’s belief in fate.

She describes the album as a tribute to all who have offered support.

Another core belief is that if people have a special ambition they should do all they can to make it reality.

“Life’s too short. Let’s at least try - I think if we hadn’t tried we would always have regretted it.

“Go for it - it might work but if it doesn’t you will at least have tried.”

Details of the album and forthcoming live appearances can be found at