In Music

Manchester Jazz Festival 2018 sees the city-wide extravaganza return to Manchester for its 23rd outing this summer from 20 – 28 July. Artistic Director Steve Mead talks you through his top picks.

Agbeko: Salon Perdu, Friday 20 July, 8pm

Described by the Manchester Evening News as ‘Manchester's finest and most persuasive advert for musical adventure', this 22-legged Afro-party monster opens mjf 2018 with a bang. Agbeko bring you hard-hitting Afro-funk and Ethio-jazz, underpinned by politicised lyrics and filtered through the voices of a new generation of 20-somethings.

Ashley Henry Trio: Salon Perdu, Saturday 21 July, 5pm

Returning to mjf for the first time since 2015, Ashley has become one of the UK’s hotly tipped stars and is labelled by London Jazz News as ‘one to watch.’ Exploring new musical territory Ashley fuses together, jazz, hip-hop and R&B – giving a nod to J Dilla, Robert Glasper and Madlib.

Dave Holland/ Zakir Hussain/ Chris Potter: RNCM Concert Hall, Saturday 21 July, 8pm

Three living legends of jazz unite in Manchester as part of their successful world tour. Dave Holland’s passion for musical expression has led to a career of over 50 years and earned him multiple Grammy awards, sharing the stage with Miles Davis, Stan Getz and Betty Carter to name a few.

Zakir Hussain brings his masterful knowledge of world music to the RNCM Concert Hall stage having previously collaborated with John McLaughlin (Shakti), George Harrison, Van Morrison and Yo Yo Ma.

While Chris Potter’s world-class pedigree has earned him the prestigious Jazzpar Prize and Downbeat accolade of ‘most copied saxophonist on the planet’. This rare UK performance by the Cross Currents Trio is one not to be missed.

Mali Hayes + We Are Leif: Night and Day Café, Tuesday 24 July, 8.30pm

2017 mjf introduces artist Mali Hayes returns to headline her own gig in our new festival venue, Night & Day Café. A firm favourite of Jamie Cullum, Mali promises an evening of smooth vocals and soulful grace. She is joined by Bristol’s We Are Leif who draw influences from Massive Attack and Lamb delivered through powerful vocals and tight rhythms.

Yazz Ahmed’s Electric Dreams: Salon Perdu, Wednesday 25 July, 8pm

British-Bahraini Yazz seeks to blur the lines between jazz, electronic sound design and the music of her mixed heritage. She brings her latest project Electric Dreams to mjf which is an ongoing series of innovative live collaborations with her favourite artists. These free-flowing and conversational improvisations use electronics, sound design, live looping and sampling to explore contemporary jazz from a new angle.

Irwin Mitchel mjf originals Esther Swift Light Gatherer: Salon Perdu, Thursday 26 July, 8pm

This year’s exclusive Irwin Mitchel mjf originals commission has been awarded to harpist and composer Esther Swift. Her composition Light Gatherer is an instrumentation of voice, harp quartet, string trio, piano, saxophone, trombone and percussion influenced by the work of poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. Especially resonant as we mark the centenary of women being given the vote, Esther has written a new work which will take words, exploring their meaning and sound to create a series of pieces that experiment with texture, purpose and expectation.

Hackney Colliery Band + Namvula: Salon Perdu, Saturday 28 July, 8pm

Hackney Colliery Band’s storming shows are a tongue-in-cheek and lively nod to the great tradition of British brass bands. Inspired by New Orleans marching bands, Balkan beats, hip-hop, sizzling Latin brass, African polyrhythms and high-octane rock, with a few unexpected covers of the likes of Goldie, The Prodigy, Kanye West and even Toto, Hackney Colliery Band bring the UK colliery brass band tradition bang up to date. Before Hackney Colliery Band is a performance by Namvula, who is fresh from performing at BBC One’s Biggest Weekend in Perth. Fusing the folk and urban traditions of her Zambian homeland and her Scottish roots with London’s eclectic music scene, Namvula blends African sounds and rhythms with Latin, jazz and folk into uplifting and emotive songs. This promises to be an evening of upbeat tunes that draw on various world music influences.

These are just a handful of the gigs taking place over our most adventurous nine-day festival this July. You can catch mjf at seven venues across the city between the 20 – 28 July with a mixture of free and paid gigs throughout the day and into early evening. We also welcome our new bar sponsors the Brightside Brewing Company to Festival Square (Albert Square) who are accompanied by award-winning wood-fired pizza, southern style chicken, succulent pork Frankfurters, fresh vegan, vegetarian and meat Lebanese dishes, authentic Thai Street food and the very best quality coffees. New for this year we will be bringing you Asian style ice cream rolls.

See the full festival programme here.

We're also giving away two tickets to mjf 2018’s show-stopping open gig, Agbeko, on Friday July 20. (plus two copies Agbeko’s new EP, Unite!) Enter here!

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