Adrian Pallant, who will be reviewing at the Manchester Jazz Festival for us, makes a personal selection of his favourite gigs, and points to some other events likely to prove popular. The festival has also just announced its success in leading an Arts Council England Catalyst Funding bid.
Manchester Jazz Festival has become a key Summer event in the North West of England, since its inception in 1995. This year’s festival, the 18th, has over 60 events . Venues include the popular Festival Pavilion Teepee in front of Manchester Town Hall. Last year, this sun-soaked Albert Square location provided a joyous hub for jazz-goers.
With ticket prices often as little as £3, or even free! ‘MJF’ has always sought to showcase the richness of local talent, as well as attracting bigger names from today’s flourishing jazz scene.
My Festival ‘six picks’ are:
– Trish Clowes’ Tangent (27th July – Festival Pavilion Teepee)
Current BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, Trish Clowes, brings a superb quartet with Chris Montague, Calum Gourlay and James Maddren. She’s a beautifully lyrical, yet experimental tenor sax player, and I’ve been enjoying her second album ‘And in the night time she is there’.
– Emilia Mårtensson & Ivo Neame (28th July – Festival Pavilion Teepee )
This is a duo I’m longing to see perform together. Emilia Mårtensson has a meltingly beautiful Swedish voice – and for ‘MJF’, she teams up with one of the most hard-working and exciting UK pianists (and one-third of Phronesis), Ivo Neame.
– Go-Go Penguin and Matthew Hallsall Sextet (1st August – Band on the Wall)
RNCM alumni Chris Illingworth, Grant Russell and Rob Turner have, in a relatively a short time, gathered a huge and affectionate following with their driven piano trio creativity influenced by, amongst others, the pioneering e.s.t.
Sharing the bill is their Gondwana Records boss, trumpeter Matthew Halsall and his sextet, bringing us mellow, summery sounds from his native Manchester-titled album, ‘Fletcher Moss Park’.
– Laura Jurd Quartet (2nd August – Festival Pavilion Teepee )
The young trumpeter/composer has been making waves with her delightfully original début album. ‘Landing Ground’, which reveals incredibly mature writing and improvisational skills.
– The Cloudmakers Trio ( 3rd August -Festival Pavilion Teepee )
Jim Hart is possibly the most in-demand vibes player in the country. His live Pizza Express album demonstrates both the invention and rapport he shares with bassist (and Whirlwind Records owner) Michael Janisch, and drummer Dave Smith.
– Dice Factory (3rd August -Festival Pavilion Teepee )
Propelled by Kairos 4tet’s Manchester-born drummer, Jon Scott – with Tom Challenger (tenor), George Fogel (piano) and Tom Farmer (bass) –their eponymous album released last year reveals a desire to create strongly-improvised, exciting jazz.
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It’s a broad programme, in which popular highlights will also include:
– Vocalist Claire Martin with the BBC Big Band (27th July, Bridgewater Hall ), celebrating the leading ladies of jazz.
– US jazz-funk groove collective Snarky Puppy return to Manchester (28th July, Band on the Wall ) led by charismatic ace bassist Michael League.
– Take Five: Europe (29thJuly RNCM Theatre) intriguingly brings together rising international stars including Arun Ghosh, Daniel Herskedal, Marcin Masecki and Dave Kane.
– A double-bill of Kirsty Almeida & The Troubadours and the Riot Jazz Brass Band on the final Saturday evening (3rd August, Festival Pavilion Teepee)
– Salford guitar luminary, Mike Walker, features in a fascinating project, the Music For Life Big Band ( 28 July lunchtime – Festival Pavilion Teepee) a 25-strong ensemble of young musicians from Cheshire, performing special commissions from contemporary composers such as Gwilym Simcock and Stan Sulzmann.
– Young drummer Johnny Hunter and his Quartet (30th July, Matt & Phred’s)
– The pulsating Paradox Ensemble (3rd August, Festival Pavilion Teepee) and ska-influenced Skamel (2nd August, Matt & Phred’s).
(More information from the MANCHESTER JAZZ FESTIVAL WEBSITE)