As the music world welcomes signs of recovery with cautious optimism, we’re looking forward to welcoming gig-goers safely back to live music with our weekender at Freight Island.

Over the past year, as music practitioners have had their careers turned upside down, we’ve been supporting northern jazz artists to turn uncertainty and anguish into creativity and focus, offering paid opportunities and one-to-one support where it’s needed the most.

You’ll have the chance to see some of their work throughout the summer, be it ground-breaking mjf originals collaborations, under 25s mjf soundcheck artists from Greater Manchester making their public performance debut, or our mjf hothouse artists celebrating new releases, commissions and national awards.

We think their stories are inspiring, moving and reflected in our lives – and they embody the spirit of improvisation that is such a fundamental part of the music we all love, and love sharing with listeners.

And so, on international jazz day, we’re considering what it will mean to be international, yet sustainable, what it will mean to be strong partners, yet retain our own distinctive vision, and how best to celebrate heritage and reflect our communities.

Join us at Freight Island this June to feel live music again, and be part of that continuing journey.

Steve Mead

Artistic Director, mjf

manchester jazz festival took a trip down to Media City for our very own showcase as part of Digital City Festival with Stream GM. 

Digital City Festival is an annual event series exploring what makes a leading digital city. Running from 12 – 23 April, it featured two weeks of keynotes, panels, the Digital City Awards, cultural events and more, all broadcast from MediaCityUK.

On Monday 19th April, artistic director Steve Mead and festival assistant Ash Doherty were joined by two emerging jazz acts on the mjf hothouse level-up programme, for a special live broadcast. The event began with an introduction to manchester jazz festival with an eye to our talent development programme, mjf hothouse, and a virtual appearance from Talent Development Associate Helen Goodman, before welcoming artists Lara Jones and Yaatri. 

Lara Jones performed two pieces from her ever-growing body of work ‘Enso’. ‘St Panaras’ and ‘Tai Chi’ uniquely marry the emotional with the digital, with Lara’s solo lineup including her saxophone, synthsand midi controllers allowing her to manipulate audio samples live and to create a sound much larger than one human unaided by technology. She offered us an insight into the meanings behind the pieces, her upcoming installation piece with Cheltenham Jazz Festival in a geodesic dome and how mjf hothouse influenced her journey. 

Following a video delving deeper into the mjf hothouse programme we welcomed Yaatri to the virtual stage. The five-piece are led by guitarist Liam DeTar and they performed songs both old and new. Tunes from their upcoming album arethe inspiration behind their newly revolutionised live set up which now incorporates far more elaborate technical processes to achieve the same heights as the recorded music. They discussed how expanding their use of technology was a natural evolution in line with their artistic growth and vision, and expressed their interest in imagining how this will integrate into their creative practice as time goes on. 

We’d like to extend a warm thank you to Digital City Festival, Stream GM and the team at Badger & Combes who made it a pleasant and smooth experience. 

manchester jazz festival will head to Escape to Freight Island for three FREE days of new music this June!

The mjf team will bring the very best in contemporary jazz to three stages across the Piccadilly venue from June 11 – 13.

The cutting-edge street market and selection of open-air bars at Escape to Freight Island will complete the venue’s intimate vibe.

The line-up

On Friday 11 June audiences can catch sets from soul artist and favourite from the Manchester scene Yemi Bolatiwa, storming sets from Mr Wilson’s Second Liners and one of the brightest and boldest jazz talents in the UK, Rebecca Nash. DJs Pablo Blanquito and Danielle Moore will also be providing some tunes.

Saturday 12 June will kick off with Ain’t Misbahavin’, an interactive concert for 6-11 year olds and their families, followed by sets from fast-rising, global-infused Leeds band Yaatri, MOBO-nominated saxophonist Camilla George and nine piece afro-beat collective Nubiyan Twist.
Saturday audiences can also enjoy Manchester-based singer songwriter Marco Woolf, the synthesised soundscapes of Rafe’s Dilemma, pounding brass parades from Back Chat Brass and Young Pilgrims and DJ sets from Debra Richards and Harkirit Boparai.

Sunday 13 June will see The Untold Orchestra ft special guest Mali Hayes, high energy beats and traditional African vocals from Ubunye, the Binker Golding Band led by the multi-award winning saxophonist & composer and sessions from Jazz North’s northern line bands Nishla Smith Quintet and John Pope Quintet.
High energy brass covers of pop gems from Twisted Tubes and Break Out Brass keep the tempo up, along with a DJ set from Jenna G and her Freight Island favourite, From MCR with Love.

Take a look at the full line up here and book your table.

Bookings

General bookings are now open!

mjf at Escape to Freight Island is entirely free to book, you are just required to reserve a table (similar to if you were visiting a pub or restaurant). Each reservation lasts for 2½ hours.

All our events are free, but you’ll be asked to give card details at the time of booking as Freight Island will charge a £10 per person cancellation fee if you don’t cancel your table within 24 hours notice of attending your chosen booking.

You can reserve for a specific stage, date and time in The Ticket Hall, The Round or The Pavilion. You will NOT be allowed to float around between venues, so make sure that when you book you are booking for the venue and time corresponding to the acts you wish to see. You are allowed to book multiple time slots across the days and weekend, for example you could book for Saturday from 12.00 – 14.30 in The Ticket Hall, 14.30 – 17.00 in The Round and then 17.00 – 19.30 in The Pavilion if you wished!

Be sure that wherever you sit and when, it will be an amazing three days of unmissable music, great food and drinks in one of Manchester’s most exciting new venues.

In line with COVID-19 restrictions, table service will be available for food and drink during the event.

manchester jazz festival will take over the full venue and three stages across The Ticket Hall, The Round and the Pavilion.

Audiences can book socially distanced tables with their household bubble free of charge for up to 2.5 hours in the different areas of the venue in advance. There will be no entry on the door during the festival without a table booking.

In line with COVID-19 restrictions, table service will be available for food and drink during the event and audiences must not roam around the venue.

Take a look at the full line up here and book your table.