Read on as Youth Advisory Board member, Georgie Harold-Moss, takes us on a journey through our opening weekend at First Street (17-19 may) for #mjf2024! 

If music be the food of love, then Jazz has got to be my favourite cuisine – and what better feast than the opening weekend of Manchester Jazz Festival 2024 at First Street! Last weekend I had the chance to get a taste of some of the finest music in the Jazz scene all for free! Here’s what was on the menu:

For starters, I headed to the Home Stage to see Claire Victoria Roberts, who, with an enchanting voice, lulls you into a new realm with her blending of folk, classical and jazz. Just as I was closing my eyes to relax into the music, I caught Claire raising her violin and to become ensemble leader in a stunning string interlude, which there were to be many more of. Explaining her own connections to each piece of music, and with each song a conversation between her own voice and fiddle, the lounging audience were taken on a journey from Welsh love songs over to the samba of Brazil.

Peckish for more, I walked over to the Main Stage for my first course, the Maja Mannila Trio. Hailing from Helsinki the trio is led by Maja, a singer, composer and pianist with a truly unique tone and incredible vocal control. I was able to kick back on a deck chair and enjoy their original music, which combined old skool soul with its slapping funk bass with drawn back moments of exposed instrumentals forefronted by Maja’s whistle tones and scatting that stopped passers by in their tracks.

For my main course, I managed to catch the Atatu Trio at the Ask Garden Stage. A fusion of Latin, Jazz, Brazilian and Funk; with songs like ‘Brexit Blues’ each composition is brimming with character, with comforting, meditative grooves soon overtaken by the bass on a mission. Spoken word takes precedence in the Trio’s pieces where the music acts as a running map outlining a route for poignant socio-political observations. Safe to say I was trying to Shazam every song.

Time for a palate cleanser – so I headed back to the Main Stage in time to catch Conor & The Greenskeepers, an eclectic band showcasing arguably the best new Hip Hop / Jazz fusion in Manchester. Fronted by Conor Michael featuring a nine-piece band, these guys had me jumping back up to dance every time I thought I needed a rest. From an incredible blend of salsa beats and smooth lyrical writing to formidable brass that was shoulder to shoulder with Conor’s effortlessly empowering bars, the stage was lit up with an infectious energy cultivated by each member of the band. My highlight had to be trombonist Emily Mason’s emceeing which had the entire crowd hypnotised and immersed in her clockwork flow.

For a sweet treat to conclude my musical buffet, I caught Vipertime on the Main Stage. Formed in Leeds, the band emulates a style blending post-punk Jazz with funk, soul and plenty of skillful improvisation. I was really excited by the hints of Arabic-inspired harmonies as well as the incredible stage presence of all band members, especially saxophonist Ben Powling. With their set ending the Sunday evening, we couldn’t get enough of this funkadelic foursome, and were treated with some encores to dance off into the night.

Suitably stuffed, I couldn’t imagine a more fantastic array of Jazz to see in the first truly sunny summer weekend in Manchester. I’ll be sure to be back next weekend when the festival continues at Band On The Wall with even more incredible shows for all musical cravings.


Our closing weekend will take places at various venues across Manchester including Band on the Wall, RNCM, Stollerhall & Forsyths Music Shop. View the full lineup here. Georgie is a member of our Youth Advisory Board. Applications are now open for those aged between 18-25 with an interest in festivals, music and / or jazz. Click here to learn more and apply. 

Planning on coming along to our FREE opening weekend at First Street? But not sure what to do with the children? Well there’s something on offer for everyone this festival season, as we proudly introduce our jammed packed family friendly lineup of activities. All events will take place on the morning of 18th May and are free to access. Read on to discover more.

Thanda’s BIG Sing

South African born Thanda Gumede will lead a mass singing workshop. Teaching songs in Zulu and/or Xhosa, Thanda will include warm-up exercises and teach joyous South African harmonies and the signature click sounds of the southern Bantu languages.

The workshop will lead to the choir performing on the Ask Garden Stage with Thanda’s band.

Free, by ticket only.

Ain’t Misbehavin

Jazz band ain’t misbehavin’ will lead a series of interactive concerts designed to introduce young children to jazz and improvisation in an upbeat and ever silly way. Yet they do not make light of jazz masterpieces, ensuring fun for the whole family.

Free, no booking required.

Mambo Jambo

Exploring carnival rhythms, singing and all sorts of spontaneous music making with acoustic Roots Duo Mambo Jambo. And they might just be the biggest acoustic duo you’ll ever see; a truly unique two-piece known for performing lively, joyous mash up of roots, world, folk and jazz.

Suitable for all ages. Instruments provided.

Free, no booking required.

Little Groovers

Manchester-based Little Groovers is an award-winning mixed-age music session for babies and young children under the age of 7. Each fun-filled session is led by a trained musician. Sing, play gorgeous percussion instruments and listen to live performance. A huge parachute, tactile props, scarves, ribbons and bubbles make each session a fun, interactive and engaging musical experience. Learn through music about counting, rhythm, taking turns and practising social skills.

Free, no booking required. 

Make a Bee with Bianca

Come along and join in on this creative bee making workshop. Inspired by our lovely bee icon (designed by Paul Hemmingfield) participants creations will decorate our Ask garden stage.

Free, no booking required.


There will also be an opportunity for professional face painting and bio glitter, suitable for all ages, with the talented Anna. 

The family friendly activities will take place at our free opening weekend on the morning of the 18th. Participation is free, operating on a first come first served basis. They have been kindly supported by Ask Real Estate.