Manchester Jazz Festival

Manchester Jazz Festival has announced the full programme for this year's festival, 22- 30 July.

By Lee Isherwood | 19 July 2011

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manchester jazz festival 22 – 30 July 2011

Manchester Jazz Festival has announced the full programme for this year’s festival, 22- 30 July. The mjf website is now live with all gig details, soundclips and festival information – 9 days of the best and the newest contemporary jazz with musical firsts and international debuts, plus most of the gigs are free.

Lovers of Afro-Cuban jazz are spoilt for choice over the opening weekend with two leading percussionists each heading up their own take on this highly dance-friendly genre. Dave Hassell’s Apitos play the opening night (22nd, Band on the Wall) with a lively concoction of irresistible South American rhythms, whilst Christian Weaver heads up a new project, De Neuvo con La Timbala, (24th Festival Pavilion Theatre) which promises to satisfy both jazzfeet and jazzheads: a selection of newly-devised material merging voices, percussion and horns.

The international programme brings the Spanish warmth of the Pose-Roper-Salvador piano trio and the delicately poised vibes of the Pascal Schumacher Quartet from France: a double bill of superb international artists on their first visits to Manchester (Festival Pavilion Theatre, 23rd) thanks to our partnerships with Instituto Cervantes and Bureau Export.

The hugely-popular Afternoon Teas at The Midland Hotel (25th – 28th) make a welcome return: we’ve a series of sophisticated duos complementing the charm, splendour and intimacy of The French, including International Piano Competition Winner Dan Whieldon and world-class saxophonist Norman Brown. New for this year are two extra-special Afternoon Tea Dances (24th & 29th) that promise to be both spectacular and great fun: singer/songwriter Kirsty Almeida has curated for us two bespoke afternoons of song, dance and… bingo! Places are strictly limited, so book early.

At the Royal Northern College of Music, Cinematic Orchestra guitarist Stuart McCallum launches his new album of electro-ambient jazz Distilled with a 15-piece ensemble in a spectacular collaboration with visual artist Linder (27th). Vocalist Norma Winstone’s spellbinding trio with Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German reeds player Klaus Gesing create beautifully intimate music – at times spine-tingling and moving, at times joyous and free (28th).

Premieres in the programme include: pianist Adam Fairhall’s piece The Imaginary Delta (BotW, 26th) – commissioned through the unique mjf originals scheme – gives early jazz and blues forms a 21st century twist, melding the jug and diddley-bow with the turntable and prepared piano. Trumpeter Richard Iles returns with a new suite of music for his Miniature Brass Emporium FP, 29th) – an instrumental line-up unique in jazz – featuring the eloquent saxophone of special guest soloist Iain Ballamy.

mjf introduces brings new up-and-coming young jazz artists into the spotlight, in their first public performance.  This year we’ve hand-picked the very best in young talent from the RNCM and Salford University: catch the Claire James Trio and the Christian Fields Octet in the Festival Pavilion before they’re famous…

In a family-friendly event produced especially for this year’s mjf (24th, Bridgewater Hall foyer): trombonist Chris Bridges has taken Julia Donaldson’s children’s story The Smartest Giant in Town and given it a jazzy twist that will entertain and delight young and not-so-young listeners.

The final day in the Festival Pavilion (30th) presents more sounds from around, as we pay visits to Spain, France and Nashville – via Wigan. Two international bands (high-energy pianist Benjamin Moussay with his Trio and the carnivalesque La Orquesta Jamalandruki), on their debut appearances in the city, are pitted against Billy Buckley’s tribute to his Nashville guitar heroes in Wagon Train. In the evening, Mancunian keyboard maverick John Ellis re-forms his legendary Big Bang – they played at the very first mjf in 1996! – and the day closes with the heavy, heavy sound of Manchester ska, and the assembled oddballs and pranksters of Baked a la Ska.

Take Part – there are plenty of other opportunities to get involved this year: a Singing for Larks vocal workshop led by the dynamic Faith Watson (24th, Festival Pavilion Theatre), a panel-led debate by Lifting the Lid on how music of black origin is being interpreted by today’s generation of players (25th, Festival Pavilion Teepee); a Salsa class (28th), and of course the regular festival jam session open to all (both at M&Ps).