Manchester Jazz Festival wins EJN Award for Adventurous Programming

The 21st edition of the Manchester Jazz Festival kicks off today with the news that the city-wide event has won the Europe Jazz Network’s Award for Adventurous Programming, making it the first UK promoter to win this prestigious prize. Each year the EJN’s Europe-wide association of live music promoters and organisations focusing on creative music, contemporary jazz and improvisation awards a European promoter who exemplifies its values of distinctive and original programming. This is something the MJF has specialised since it began in 1996, championing local talent and spotlighting the strength and depth of musicians based in Manchester and the north of England, giving many equal billing to international jazz names during its annual 10-day programme.

The award will be officially announced at the festival’s opening ceremony at Manchester Town Hall on 22 July, and will be received by MJF artistic director Steve Meade. The MJF will also be celebrated at this year’s Europe Jazz Conference in Wroclaw, Poland from 22 to 25 September. Previous winners include Germany’s Moers Festival, Portugal’s Jazz em Agosto, the Amsterdam music venue Bimhuis and Ireland’s 12 Points Festival.


This year’s festival runs from 22 to 31 July, with 88 gigs at key venues and jazz clubs around the city and at the central Festival Pavilion in Albert Square. Known for its innovative blend of quality international headliners, original commissions and new talent, this year’s programme includes a headline appearance by Anglo-American supergroup The Impossible Gentlemen, who launch their new album, Let’s Get Deluxe, at the RNCM Theatre on 26 July, with the band featuring the expanded five-piece line-up of guitarist Mike Walker, pianist Gwilym Simcock, bassist Steve Rodby, drummer Adam Nussbaum and newly recruited multi-reedist Iain Dixon.

The RNCM also plays host to this year’s Irwin Mitchell mjforiginals commission, this year composed by Beats & Pieces bandleader Ben Cottrell. Entitled New Seeing the work receives its world première. Inspired by Stan Getz’s influential and classic album, Focus, the piece is orchestrated for trumpet (played by Graham South), 12-piece string ensemble and double rhythm section featuring drummers Findlay Panter and Johnny Hunter and bassists Mick Bardon as well as Stewart Wilson.

Tim-Garland-Quartet-54

British sax titan Tim Garland (pictured above) brings his top-notch electric band of Ant Law, Jason Rebello and Asaf Sirkis to the festival and is one many diverse names performing at the Festival Pavilion. Also appearing are Empirical, Graham Massey’s Toolshed, Jeremy Sassoon’s Ray Charles Project and the final night double bill of Perhaps Contraption plus Abstract Orchestra. Another one-off concert includes a compelling hook-up between Kit Downes and Tom Challenger who form Vyamanikal, which will be serving up a late night concert using the pipe organ of St Ann’s Church along with immersive visual projections. International acts making their debuts include the renowned Polish Atom String Quartet, who combine jazz and classical sounds in vibrant, energised ways, and France’s Thomas de Pourquery’s Supersonic project unleashes his wild exploration of the music of Sun Ra.

Nearby Leeds College of Music marks its 50th anniversary year with performances by two of its large ensembles plus a bebop-led set from Mintons Playhouse that’s comprised of many of the college’s talented faculty. The festival’s MJF Originals series once again showcases new and emerging artists, with ANDCHUCK!, Lieko Quintet, Pareidolia and Odd Poets all appearing this year, as well the winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year Jazz Award, trumpeter Alexandra Ridout, who appears with her Quartet. Festival venues include Band on the Wall, Matt & Phred’s, Portico Library, RNCM, St Ann’s Church and The Midland Hotel plus arts and music centre, HOME.

– Mike Flynn

For more info and full programme details visit
www.manchesterjazz.com

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