This year’s Manchester Jazz Festival starts in earnest this evening, initiating nine busy days of local, national and overseas talent at concerts across the city in a variety of venues. Highlights include a liberal sprinkling of top local talent, new commissions and rising stars. Tonight sees jazz-funk crew Pocket Central kick things into party mode at Band on the Wall while Matt & Phred’s has Joni Mitchell-inspired singer Alice Zawadzki with a fine band including Beats & Pieces’ musical director and saxophonist Ben Cottrell and Cinematic Orchestra guitar star Stuart McCallum (pictured above).
Vibrant Spanish band Mastretta and local latin funk collective Bugalu Foundation bring some high energy dance sounds to the Pavilion stage on Saturday 14 July, while emerging Leeds-based sax/guitar/drums group Roller Trio wake up passers by the following morning with an early Pavilion set of their hook-laden electronica/rock influenced originals. Harmonically rich brass-led sounds from HSQ+2 can then be found at St. Ann’s church as they appear there on Sunday lunchtime (15 July). There’s an open rehearsal of Songs of the Caged Bird, pianist/composer George King’s song-cycle festival commission, at the RNCM on 16 July, with the full work performed on Thursday 19 July at the RNCM Theatre.
Monday’s programme includes a BBC Introducing night at Band on the Wall hosted by Jazz on 3’s Jez Nelson, Jazzwise writer and broadcaster Kevin Le Gendre and 6Music’s Gilles Peterson, showcasing new jazz names to watch out for, and the Beating Wing Orchestra liven up the Festival Pavilion with jazz, African gospel, and Balkan folk sounds. The following day the RNCM Theatre features the Stan Sulzmann Big Band, while revered multi-reed master John Surman appears on Wednesday (18 July) performing mesmerizing new music from his latest ECM solo album Saltash Bells, that sees him utilizing loops and electronics to create his own multi-layered sound world. Band on the Wall features both the Zoe Rahman Quartet (18 July) and Shabaka Hutchings’ frenetic sax/clarinet/tub/drums crew Sons Of Kemet (19 July) featuring the sub-octave blowing of Oren Marshall and double drum power of Seb Rochford and Tom Skinner.
Thursday 19 July also sees performances by the drum-led Jonathan Silk Quintet (Festival Pavilion), Manchester trained trumpeter Jack Davies’ band Flea Circus (St Ann’s Church), and Stuart McCallum playing original music created through his residency at Matt & Phred’s. Trumpeter Neil Yates opens Friday’s proceedings at the Festival Pavilion with his Five Counties group while two brass-heavy ensembles – the Hackney Colliery Band and the Coleman Brothers – bring things at the Pavilion to a hot and heavy conclusion before the Dub Jazz Soundsystem kicks in for the last night party at Matt & Phred’s.
For more go to www.manchesterjazz.com
– Lizy Exell