Returning to the city with ten days of spectacular music from rising stars and celebrated veterans alike, Manchester Jazz Festival (mjf) runs from Fri 19 – Sun 28 May across ten iconic venues, showcasing the best names in contemporary jazz including Hot 8 Brass Band, Buena Vista Social Club’s Eliades Ochoa, Mica Millar, Billy Cobham and more.

Beginning with an entirely free multi-stage weekender, mjf – Manchester’s longest-running festival – takes over the vibrant First Street neighbourhood with three stages each celebrating the ‘breadth and individuality of our home-grown scene’, with dazzling performances from a variety of northern bands including Wizards of Twiddly, Yemi Bolatiwa, Good Habits, Ni Maxine, Charlotte Keeffe’s Right Here Right Now Quartet and many others, alongside some of Greater Manchester’s up-and-coming 18-25 bands from the festival’s Soundcheck talent development programme and several ‘hothouse’ alumni artists.

With evening sets from Fri 19 – Sat 27 May, long-standing Northern Quarter jazz den Matt & Phred’s hosts Alligator Gumbo, Henry Botham’s New Orleans Piano Gumbo, Los Chichanos, Arun Ghosh, Baiana and more, while The Yard runs three nights of funk-filled entertainment starring Donovan Haffner, Alina Bzhezhinska’s HipHarp Collective ft. Tony Kofi and the Nathaniel Facey Trio from Mon 22 – Wed 24 May in association with NQ Jazz.

On Tue 23 May, The Blues Kitchen – newcomers to the festival – hosts funk trombonist and former composer for James Brown, Fred Wesley, who performs with The New J.B.’s, Brown’s former backing band. The following night, prodigious instrumentalist Olivia Cuttill performs the entirety of Miles Davis’ seminal record, Kind of Blue, with an all-star quintet.

Complimented perfectly by a breathtaking setting with cavernous acoustics, an array of artists including Robert Mitchell, Stan Sulzmann and Nikki Iles and Freight Train featuring Paul Clarvis deliver a spellbinding set of gigs in the heart of St. Ann’s Church from Wed 24 – Fri 26 May.

On Thu 25 May, Deansgate’s Forsyth Music Shop hosts vocalist Nishla Smith with her new show, The Beast, an ‘explosion of musical and narrative ideas’ told through song, while the James Pearson Trio (Ronnie Scott’s) celebrates 100 Years of Jazz Piano the following night – and both shows include a glass of prosecco in the ticket price.

Rounding off a week of show-stopping contemporary jazz performances, Band On The Wall invites festival-goers to a jubilant weekend-long closing party featuring Jazz FM’s 2022 Soul Artist of the Year, Mica Millar, followed by a special edition triple-bill of Marcus Joseph, the Romarna Campbell Trio and the Robocobra Quartet before a final day starring the Julie Campiche Quartet and esteemed Cuban guitarist Eliades Ochoa.

Manchester Jazz Festival also presents a new commission,THEMORY, located at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation. Billed as an immersive audiovisual installation, the exhibit draws artistic inspiration from the subjective, fluid forces of family, history, place and time.

Steve Mead, mjf CEO and Artistic Director, said: “We can’t wait to welcome you back to our 10-day festival – the 28th mjf – to share some hugely inspiring artists with a host of venues and partners across the city. mjf is acknowledged for championing northern talent, under-the-radar artists and debuts of new music, as well as bringing some big names to Manchester, and of course for celebrating the diversity of our music and its artists. For many, mjf is the sound of surprise – it’s the sound we love and we hope you will too. We can’t wait for you to join us.”

For the full Manchester Jazz Festival programme, click here. Tickets cost up to £35, but many events – including the opening weekender – are completely free to attend.

A Manchester Wire Partnership post
Fri 19 May - Sun 28 May, FREE-£35
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Tue 28 Mar 2023