The first tickets are now on sale for the 24th Manchester Jazz Festival, as the city’s longest running music festival returns with a new look.

mjf 2019 heads back to the city from May 23 – 27. Along with a change of date, the main festival hub will now run the length of St Ann’s Square to New Cathedral Street with a host of free music stages and bars. As always, gigs will also be staged in venues across the city.

For the first time, mjf have teamed up with Manchester Food and Drink Festival, who will curate an exciting mix of culinary offers along the festival hub.

mjf is offering a £5 ticket offer for under 25 year olds at selected gigs for a limited time only to welcome the city’s student population and celebrate the first term time mjf in more than 20 years.

mjf Artistic Director Steve Mead said: “2019 sees us leave our Albert Square home for the foreseeable future due to the extensive renovations taking place in Manchester’s Town Hall. We’ve worked really hard to find a suitable new home and after a lot of research, we’ve chosen the area running from St Ann’s Square all the way to New Cathedral Street.

“St Ann’s Square became our base in the early years of the festival so now, in our 24th year, this will be something of a homecoming for us, albeit a much bigger home with much more to offer.

“We’ve also moved the festival to the late May Bank Holiday weekend to give Manchester’s student population the chance to enjoy the festival.

“What won’t change is our commitment to offering audiences a diverse, surprising and memorable mix of new music experiences and we hope you’ll continue to join us on that journey.”

Tickets for the following mjf 2019 events are now on sale at manchesterjazz.com:

Keith Tippett & Matthew Bourne + Isotach Trio

RNCM Theatre, May 23 2019

Two of the greatest British jazz pianists meet across the generational divide in an exciting new collaboration. Don’t miss this rare chance to see the duo perform together.


Noya Rao + Caoilfhionn Rose

Night and Day, May 23 2019

Leeds-based electronic soul quartet Noa Roya are purveyors of lush enigmatic dreamscapes and electronica. They draw on influences from jazz, hip hop and electronic music while incorporating the sounds of the bass-heavy dub music synonymous with the Leeds music scene.


Tim Garland’s Weather Walker

St Ann’s Church, 26 May 2018

Garland’s latest intimate project fuses chamber jazz, classical and folk. Weather Walker evokes the varied seasons and moods of the Lake District and traditional song from north west England.


Emilia Mårtensson’s Loredana

The Deaf Institute, 27 May 2019

Award-winning Swedish vocalist Emilia has built a well-deserved reputation as one of the most exciting young vocalists on the UK Jazz scene and is known for boundary pushing and her original music which crosses borders between Scandi folk, jazz and pop.

For more information on mjf 2019 head to manchesterjazz.com

To apply to run a food or drink concession at mjf 2019 email barbara@foodanddrinkfestival.com. The deadline for applications is Monday 7 January.

We are pleased to announce the first performance project of mjf 2019

NORTHERN is a new jazz project developed by Maja Bugge in collaboration with field recordist Hervé Perez and video artist Adam York Gregory.

During 2018 -19 the artists will undertake residencies in Lancaster, Barrow and Manchester exploring the sonic and visual identity of these places through field recording, video recording, composition and workshops with local schools and residents.

The final performance will be an improvised concert for cello, electronics and visuals reflecting how we see, hear and relate to our surroundings.

This co-production will develop across performances on behalf of Lancaster Arts, Full of Noises in Barrow and Manchester Jazz Festival.

Maja said: “I am very excited about this unique opportunity. The bursary from The Nuffield allows me to fully explore the interdisciplinary nature of my work as a musician and composer and gives me a great opportunity to invite audience groups of different background into the process of devising a new piece of work.”

Unique in its form, NORTHERN applies jazz improvisation techniques to film making and sound sampling. Maja’s piece will resonate with those who feel northern through and through, to nature lovers and to those prone to feelings of wanderlust.

Lancaster Arts producer Leo Burtin said: “Maja is a fantastic artist who is at once deeply rooted in her local community in Lancaster and a migrant whose work happens internationally. As the UK prepares to leave the EU, and as we consider place and identity across all of our projects, I could not think of a better idea than to explore being northern through the universal language of music.”

NORTHERN was performed at Full of Noises in August 2018, and will be performed at Manchester Jazz Festival and Lancaster Arts in 2019.

For more information on Maja head to www.majabugge.com

Manchester jazz festival has been awarded GMCA Culture and Social Impact fund portfolio status for the period 2018 – 2020 .

The GMCA Culture and Social Impact fund will allow us to build on mjf introduces, the strand of our work that champions emerging talent.

As mjf introduces celebrates its landmark 10th anniversary, we now have the opportunity to roll out these opportunities further across areas of Greater Manchester by working with talent partners such as colleges, youth jazz orchestras, recording studios, local venues, pubs and clubs across the region.

We hope this work will not only attract new audiences to jazz but also help support the genre’s stars of tomorrow.

mjf Executive Director EJ Trivett said: “We are delighted to be invited to join the GMCA portfolio. For many years, we have shared our work with audiences across Greater Manchester, but this fund will enable mjf to expand our reach by discovering diverse untapped talent, developing artists and spaces across the authority, supporting local music-makers into the pipeline and providing access to an international stage.”

mjf is the first UK jazz festival to be named a Keychange Associate, pledging a 50/50 gender balance in all our programming.

For 23 years, manchester jazz festival has championed and been firm advocates of women in music through the festival programme and our special projects. We are proud to say we have consistently offered female musicians a professional platform for their music to be heard.

In 2017, 50% of all bands that played the festival included women in their line-up, translating as 49 out of 98 gigs having a strong female presence. In 2018 we continued to strive for this level of equality to help the PRS Foundation Keychange initiative reach their target of having a 50/50 gender balance in the music industry by 2022.

mjf Artistic Director Steve Mead, said: “I’m so proud to say that mjf is a Keychange Associate and it’s humbling our ambitions and achievements towards creating a more gender-balanced jazz industry are being celebrated with this initiative. There is of course plenty more to do, but I hope that together we can continue to inspire others to effect change for good.” 

For more information about the PRS Foundation Keychange Initiative click here.

We are excited to announce the three artists who have made it through the latest round of our mjf hothouse programme.

Natalie Blooms, Jemma Freese and Helen Pillinger have all secured places on the scheme, which helps musicians develop as artists.

mjf hothouse is all about working with artists on an individual basis to understand what barriers they need to overcome in their professional development to get them to the next stage of their career.

The scheme, which is free to access, offers eight weeks of industry mentoring, paid rehearsal time, bespoke workshops and a performance workshop where participants gain industry feedback for the work they present, whatever it stage it’s at.

Here’s a little more about the artists we have chosen for this round…

Natalie Blooms is a singer, songwriter and original artist, specialising in gospel, soul, jazz, folk, and pop.
Nat’s inspiration is to write and perform songs that convey her everyday discoveries and experiences through life and to grow as a person. She describes herself as creative, innovative, fresh and raw.
Natalie delivers this through her songwriting and by collaborating with some of the most exciting musicians on the scene.


Jemma Freese is a keyboardist, vocalist, composer and lyricist based in Leeds. She is involved in several projects including freese trio, J Frisco, DOMI and JOULE.
Performance highlights include a headline slot at Vortex Jazz Club, and performing at jazz festivals in Lancaster, Marsden, Gateshead, Manchester, Preston and Ribble Valley. She was awarded the Jazz North Introduces award 2017-2018.
Jemma has an passion for creating darkness in the music she creates, whether in its harmony, arrangement, melody or lyrics.


Helen Pillinger is a Manchester-based saxophonist specialising in tenor and alto. Born into a musical family, Helen did not take up music until her early twenties. After establishing herself as a player, she soon secured places studying at Leeds College of Music and then Salford University.
Helen has played with bands such as the Hilary Step Saxophone Quartet, M6, Ain’t Misbehavin’ and the piano and saxophone duo Counterpoint. Helen also works as an instrumental teacher in schools across Greater Manchester.
More recently Helen has been studying Dalcroze at the RNCM.



mjf hothouse is supported by Help Musicians UK, Arts Council England and PRS for Music Foundation.

Applications for the next round of mjf hothouse will open in early 2019.

Still to come at #mjf2018:

Yazz Ahmed’s Electric Dreams
Wednesday 25 July, Salon Perdu, Albert Square, Manchester, 8pm. 
British-Bahraini singer Yazz brings her latest project to mjf 2018 on Wednesday 25 July. Using electronics, sound design, live looping and sampling, she creates free-flowing, live improvisations that explore contemporary jazz from a personal angle.

Tickets and information here.

Irwin Mitchell mjf originals: Esther Swift Light Gatherer
Thursday 26 July, Salon Perdu, Albert Square, Manchester 8pm.

On Thursday 26 July we welcome Esther Swift to mjf 2018 with her Irwin Mitchell mjf originals composition Light Gatherer, which draws on the poetry of Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy through harp quartet, live vocals, string trio, piano, saxophone, trombone and percussion.

Tickets and information here. 

Beats & Pieces
Friday 27 July, Salon Perdu, Albert Square, Manchester, 8pm. 
Friday 27 July sees Manchester Big Band – Beats & Pieces rock the Salon Perdu stage with their 14 strong ensemble on the tenth anniversary of their very first performance. Get your weekend started with this high-octane gig and grab a pint from our Brightside Brewing Company Festival Bar.

Tickets and information here. 

Project Karnak
Saturday 28 July, Salon Perdu, Albert Square, Manchester, 5pm. 
South London group, Project Karnak kick off our final Saturday with tunes influenced by electronica, jazz and drum ‘n’ bass for their only northern gig this summer.

Hackney Colliery Band + Namvula
Saturday 28 July, Salon Perdu, Albert Square, Manchester, 8pm. 

mjf 2018 comes to a close with a double bill finale. Up first is Namvula, fresh off the Radio 1 Big Weekend stage, Namvula starts the evening with a fusion of Zambian folk and urban music – juxtaposed with influences from her Scottish roots and London’s eclectic music scene.

Directly following Namvula’s set is “one of the greatest live bands we have in this country” Radio 2, Hackney Colliery Band. Inspired by New Orleans marching bands, Balkan Beats, hip hop, Latin brass and rock this nine-piece band bring the colliery brass band tradition bang up to date with covers of Kanye West, The Prodigy and Goldie.

For Saturday’s full programme of events click here.

At manchester jazz festival, we know that music sounds fantastic.

So we’re really pleased to announce hearing specialists Amplifon will be heading down to this year’s festival on Saturday 21 July.

Amplifon’s mission is to empower people to rediscover all the textures and emotions of sound. Whether it’s protecting your hearing as an artist or finding a hearing aid that lets you enjoy music again, Amplifon’s passion is helping people live their fullest lives.

They pride themselves on being the hearing care experts, with highly trained audiologists who are always at the forefront of service and technology. They provide a wide range of hearing solutions so are always able to help you with any hearing needs.

manchester jazz festival are also supported by Help Musicians UK whose Musicians Hearing Health Scheme looks after the ears and careers of musicians across the UK.

manchester jazz festival returns for its 23rd year from 20 – 28 July 2018. You can speak to an Amplifon hearing specialist in the mjf Garden Lounge in the main festival hub in Manchester’s Albert Square on Saturday 21 July.

Why not stick around to enjoy all the sounds of mjf that day.

Each week we will be posting exclusive 60 second interviews with our 2018 Festival bands and artists. This week we are in conversation with Agbeko, to find out when Agbeko are playing mjf 2018 click here. 

Name: Jamie Stockbridge

Name of the Band: Agbeko

Where are you/the band from? Manchester

How did you get into music?
I grew up in a house where there was always music on the stereo. My Dad buys CDs of all sorts of interesting things and I used to come back from school and open the CD-shaped parcels for a quick sneak preview!

*Why did you form the band?
I’d only been in Manchester for about 6 weeks and knew that I wanted to get writing, arranging and meeting people. I’d long been an admirer of both Fela Kuti’s music and of his utterly unwavering commitment to his beliefs. It all began falling into place from there!

What are the most enjoyable aspects of being a musician?
I feel very lucky that I get to meet, play with and befriend people – and experience places – that I would never have done were I not a musician. Whether it’s talking to Nigerian composers or being introduced to a dubious bottle of Estonian spirits whilst playing in Denmark, which seemed like a good idea at the time.

What is the least enjoyable part of being a musician?
The seemingly impenetrable ‘industry’ – whatever that is and whoever they are. I don’t think I’ll ever get a straight answer… you fear every decision you make on that side of things has the potential to be a terrible one.

Who is your favourite band or artist?
I don’t think many musicians could pick just one! I’ve already mentioned my admiration for Fela and there is a long list of people who just blow my mind. Right now, at the moment of this interview, I’ll say John Zorn. The breadth, depth, variety and innovation shown throughout his life’s work is on a scale that I can’t imagine touching.

What’s the best piece of musical advice you’ve ever been given?
There will be lots that I failed to write down and have let slip from my memory, which I regret. A second hand piece of advice from Mike Walker to my friends in Artephis: ‘Tentative is not sensitive.’ Lots to think about for me there!

What does it mean to you to play at manchester jazz festival?
I feel very lucky to have had a good relationship with the festival over the last few years, in various musical guises. To be playing the main tent on opening night is a real pleasure for the whole group.

What advice would you give to the new generation of musicians that would like to follow in your steps?
I don’t know if I’m at the stage to have my advice listened to. But music doesn’t pay well – you won’t have many savings, odds are you’d have to luck out for a decent pension. So plant your flag, make the music you want to make. Justify this bizarre existence by, in some small way, having made something exist in the world that may not have done otherwise. And expect to only ever own cars that are at least 10 years old.

What has been the most notable highlight of your career so far?
With this band, heading to a festival in Bulgaria called Meadows in the Mountains was pretty special. It’s in the Rhodopes, near the Greek border – just beyond the back end of nowhere. We played to 2000 people then stayed up to watch the sun rise over the Mountains and burn away the morning mist. Incredible.

Other than yourself, who are you looking forward to seeing at mjf 2018?
I’m a sax player, so you can’t not be excited about seeing Chris Potter. The Northern Line showcase day is great too – lots of free gigs that give you a real overview of the exciting jazz scene in the north of England.

For the full Festival Programme click here.

Each week we will be posting exclusive 60 second interviews with our 2018 Festival bands and artists. This week we are in conversation with Sara Colman, to find out when Sara Colman is playing mjf 2018 click here

Name: Sara Colman

Name of the Band (if you’re in a band): The Sara Colman Band

Where are you/the band from? Birmingham and Bristol!


How did you get into music?

I was really lucky to have had piano lessons from about 6 years old and I also got to try out some other instrumental lessons at school: Violin, Double Bass, Clarinet, Flute and I was always singing! My parents loved music – my dad is a big classical and jazz fan and my mum loves classic songwriters, any kind of uplifting groovy music and pop!

*Why did you form the band?

This band was formed specifically to play the music from my new album What We’re Made Of. I’ve been playing with many of the musicians for years and others are newer friends. Ben Markland and I go back to my first solo album Spellbound and have worked together ever since – Ben the MD is from Bolton! Steve Banks, Rebecca Nash and Jonathon Silk are newer musical partners of the last few years and I co-wrote songs with each of them for this album. Delighted to be working with Natalie Mason, Beth Bellis, Ning-ning Li and Katy Nagle, our singing string quartet and we also have the most fabulous Percy Pursglove with us. Finally (it’s a big band!) Anthony Marsden will bring his incredibly gorgeous and individual voice to the songs too

What are the most enjoyable aspects of being a musician?  

The music! The freedom. The opportunity to be creative. Each day being different to the one before. Travel. Meeting new people. The shared experience with your band…..

What is the least enjoyable part of being a musician?

Nothing much…. Just thinking about the things I procrastinate about……maybe Self promo!!

Who is your favourite band or artist?

It changes daily – today it’s a band called I’m With Her – tomorrow it will probably be Foy Vance!

What’s the best piece of musical advice you’ve ever been given?

Be yourself, it is your only and best chance to be original.

What does it mean to you to play at manchester jazz festival?

I am very chuffed to be part of the festival this year, the whole band are. I love the way MJF supports original music and always gives new music a prominent place on the jazz stage. It’s such an open minded festival and has such a respect for the musicians. It’s a great opportunity for us to perform this new music to a new audience of interested listeners –  And another great reason to visit Manchester!

What advice would you give to the new generation of musicians that would like to follow in your steps?

The best I was given myself I guess – see above!

What has been the most notable highlight of your career so far?

Over the past couple of years I have really enjoyed being part of a couple of live Proms, one with NYJOS and the other with Laura Mvula and I feel unusually proud to have sung on Woman’s Hour!

Other than yourself, who are you looking forward to seeing at mjf 2018?

The band on before us – John Helliwell’s Creme Anglaise – what a band!

The very cool We are Leif – gorgeous singing and beautiful new music.

Chris Mapp’s band Stillefelt with Thomas Seminar Ford and Percy Pursgove – sublime!

For the full Festival Programme click here.

Each week we will be posting exclusive 60 second interviews with our 2018 Festival bands and artists. This week we are in conversation with Yazz Ahmed, to find out when Yazz Ahmed is playing mjf 2018 click here. 

Name:  Yazz Ahmed

Name of the Band (if you’re in a band): Yazz Ahmed’s Electric Dreams

Where are you/the band from? Bahrain, Manchester, Sweden & USA


How did you get into music?

Listening to records with my mum.

*Why did you form the band?

They are all people I love playing with individually and I thought this quartet would be a very interesting combination of musical cultures.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of being a musician? 

Creating something from nothing.

What is the least enjoyable part of being a musician?

Badly planned tour itineraries leading to some horrendous journeys.

Who is your favourite band or artist?

Kenny Wheeler.

What’s the best piece of musical advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t give up!

What does it mean to you to play at manchester jazz festival?

It’s an honour and I’m really looking forward to sharing an evening of totally improvised music with the audience.

What advice would you give to the new generation of musicians that would like to follow in your steps?

Be true to yourself.

What has been the most notable highlight of your career so far?

The amazing warmth and love that I have received in response to my album, La Saboteuse, has been overwhelming.

Other than yourself, who are you looking forward to seeing at mjf 2018?

If I could I would definitely go and see Norma Winstone’s concert.

For the full Festival Programme click here.