mjf 2022 ran from 20 – 29 may 2022 at venues and sites across Manchester, including a free opening weekend at Escape to Freight Island, weekday gigs at St Ann’s Church, nightly gigs at Matt & Phreds, events at Forsyth Music and at The Yard with partners NQ Jazz, and close with an extended weekend-long party at Band on the Wall.

Some highlights from the 10 days include:

Nubya Garcia wowed a full house at Band on the Wall with her spiritual connectivity, and Ayanna Witter Johnson inspired with her compelling cello stories of history and hope

The Richard Jones Trio exemplified the very best in Manchester’s new talent with their exploratory compositions;

Anthony Joseph delivered a powerful statement of intent on cultural identity at The Yard, with NQJazz

Intergalactic Brasstronauts rock-steadied us beyond the stratosphere at Escape to Freight Island

Skylla’s harmonics other-worldly resounded throughout St Ann’s Church

The James Pearson Trio gave us a sophisticated insight into the artistry of Oscar Peterson in Forsyths’ showroom

Heavy Beat Brass Band gave the M&Ps dancefloor a workout to remember

Our Piano trail brought interactive music-making to 13 public locations across Manchester, tempted by winning the first prize of a grand piano!

2 public realm new commissions changed our perspective on how we experience music in the public realm: Ruby Tingle celebrated Manchester’s water features in Fountainia, this year’s mjf originals work, and Lara Jones invited audiences to step inside her geodesic dome at Piccadilly Station and reflect on our relationships with journeys in Ensō+.

Put mjf23 in your diaries: 19-28 May 2023

Check out the mjf2022 gallery here

The #mjfpianotrail competition with Forsyth Music Shop is now closed. It’s been a great month of music-making around Manchester city-centre, and it’s really brightened our moods – much as we hope it has yours. Now we just need to decide on some winners… to be announced late June 2022.

Thanks to all of our piano trail partners: Manchester Arndale, Corn Exchange MCR, Döner Haus, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester Central Library, Piccadilly Station, Quayside MediaCityUK, Spinningfields Manchester, Great Northern Warehouse , Trafford Centre, Royal Exchange Manchester, Victoria Station and Harvey Nichols.

PRIZES incoming from Döner Haus, Lions Den Manchester, Manchester Art Gallery, Jenny Jones Jewellery, 20 Stories MCR, wagamama, The Lawn Club, Northern, Yamaha Pianos, Quayside MediaCityUK.

manchester jazz festival and Forsyth’s music shop are on the hunt for Manchester’s most entertaining street pianist as a trail of 13 street pianos are placed across the city this week.

From May 6 – 29, the mjf piano trail will see pianos dotted throughout Manchester available for all passers-by to play.

And for those who think they can give Elton John a run for his money, a competition to find Manchester’s best street pianists will also run with a whole raft of prizes up for grabs including a Yamaha P-45B piano, return ticket for 4 anywhere on the Northern Rail Network, a gift package and vouchers worth over £100 from Quayside Media City UK and a £30 Wagamama voucher for each prize winner.

Technical talent or formal training is not necessary, and the competition is open to all from concert pianists to the occasional ivory tickler.

The mjf piano trail, delivered in partnership with the world renowned Forysth’s Music shop of Deansgate, is part of mjf2022 which will take place at venues across the city from May 20 – 29.

From May 6, pianos will be located at The Arndale Centre, The Corn Exchange, Forsyth Music shop, Great Northern, Harvey Nichols, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester Central Library, Manchester Piccadilly Station, Quayside Media City UK, Royal Exchange Arcade, Spinningfields, The Trafford Centre, and Manchester Victoria Station.

Emma Loat, Manager of Forsyth’s Music, said: “For many years, we’ve had a street piano at the front of the Forsyth’s shop on Deansgate so we know that Manchester and the surrounding areas is full of talented musicians and those willing to have a go.
“We’re really excited to supply 13 pianos for the mjf piano trail and we’d urge all those budding performers to come forward, have a go and be in with a chance of winning some fantastic prizes.”

To be in with a chance to be named one of Manchester’s best street pianists, simply find one of the pianos in the trail, capture a short video of your performance and post the video to your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter account, tagging in @manchesterjazzfestival / @manjazzfest and using the hashtag #mjfpianotrail
Whether you play professional jazz or have never touched a note before there are no rules regarding who can apply, what kind of music you play and what your performance involves.
At the end of the piano trail mjf and Forsyth’s will select 9 winners based on who showed the most creativity, ingenuity and gave the best performances.

The prizes up for grabs are:
– Yamaha: Yamaha Digital Piano P-45B
– A £30 Wagamama gift voucher for all winners
– Doner Haus: Meal for up to 4 including pre/post drink
– Lion’s Den, Deansgate Mews: £50 bar tab
– Manchester Art Gallery: Afternoon Tea for two
– Jenny Jones: a pair of saxophone cufflinks or a soul stone necklace
– 20 Stories: Afternoon tea for two with a glass of fizz
– The Lawn Club: A complimentary pod booking and a bottle of Prosecco, for up to six people.
– Northern Rail: Four tickets at any time to anywhere on Northern rail network
– Quayside MediaCityUK: prize package includes:
• 2 x £25 Quayside Gift Card
• Two lots of two tickets to Vue Cinema
• Copy of Salford Edition Monopoly
• Two lots of two tickets for ITV Jungle Challenge

manchester jazz festival is back for 10 days of unmissable musical moments across the city this May!

From May 20-29, mjf2022 will see gigs taking place across Manchester celebrating the latest up and coming talent from across the North, and the best names in contemporary jazz including Nubya Garcia, Tim Garland, Anthony Joseph, Zoe Rahman, Rum Buffalo and Daniel Casimir.

The festival opens with a free weekender at Escape to Freight Island from May 20-22, will stage weekday gigs at St Ann’s Church, nightly gigs at Matt & Phreds, events at Forsyth Music and at The Yard with partners NQ Jazz, and close with an extended weekend-long party at Band on the Wall from May 26-29.

Free to access music and activity will also take place at outdoor locations across the city centre.

Tickets are on sale now.

Highlights of the festival programme are as follows:

Escape to Freight Island, 20-22 May
Daniel Casimir, Xhosa Cole Quartet, Intergalactic Brasstronauts, Emma Johnson’s Gravy Boat, Dirty Freud, Mamilah, Dilettante, Sarah Heneghan: Power Out, Kara, Nguvu, The Deportees, Abbie Finn Trio, Timeline, Ain’t Misbehaving, family friendly activities, DJs all weekend.

The Yard, presented in association with NQ Jazz, 23-25 May
Anthony Joseph, Emma Rawicz Quintet, Alex Hitchcock’s Dream Band.

St Ann’s Church, 23-27 May
Zoe Rahman, Skylla, Brigitte Beraha’s Lucid Dreamers, Sara Colman & Rebecca Nash.

Matt and Phreds, 20-29 May
Jeremy Sassoon Quartet, Heavy Beat Brass Band, Alligator Gumbo, Honey Bee Jazz, Rum Buffalo, Baiana, Nonunonu, Shapeshifters, M&P x mjf Open Jam night.

Band on the Wall, 26-29 May
Nubya Garcia, Mulatu Astatke, Tim Garland Group, Gary Crosby Sextet: Mingus Moves, Ayanna Witter Johnson, Hackney Colliery Band.

Forsyth Music, 27 May
The Ronnie Scott’s Trio featuring James Pearson – Remembering Oscar Peterson: A portrait of a jazz legend.

Steve Mead, mjf CEO and Artistic Director, said: “After two years of staging online and restricted live events throughout the pandemic, we simply can’t wait to welcome you back to our 10-day festival, to share some hugely exciting artists at a host of venues across the city.

“Our Escape to Freight Island weekender was a hit with audiences last year so we’ve been sure to include them in our programme again. We’re also thrilled to team up with the newly reopened Band on the Wall, and revisit some firm favourites such our St Ann’s Church
recitals, the ever-popular Matt and Phreds and our partnership with NQ Jazz, whose events are always a huge hit with audiences.

“As well as taking audiences on a journey across Manchester’s iconic venues, we’re bringing you an array of the very best players, and some surprise happenings that you’ll be able to experience for free across the city centre. We can’t wait for you to join us.”

Buy tickets and browse the full mjf2022 programme here.

We’re excited to announce the launch of the mjf fantasy festival podcast!

Hosted by mjf’s Artistic Director Steve Mead and Festival Assistant Ash Doherty, the fantasy festival podcast invites jazz musicians, creators, supporters and fans to programme their fantasy festival.

We’ll unpick what it is that makes a festival so magical; from the setting, to the food and drink, weather, company, fashion – whilst delving deeper into their musical tastes.

The series of six episodes launches Tuesday 25th January at 6pm and features the co-founder and Director of Operations at Black Lives in Music, Roger Wilson.

Future episodes will feature guests including Tess Hirst, Sir Richard Leese, Yemi Bolatiwa and Robert Abel.

This podcast was co-created and produced by James Howe.

Listen now on Spotify – and don’t forget to like and subscribe!

manchester jazz festival is set to premiere four new works in an online festival this January, celebrating the creativity of digital music making.

The mjf digital originals festival will run from January 17-21 and share a newly commissioned digital work from the most promising northern musicians each night at 6pm.

The new works range from AI-interpreted musicians and immersive drum performances to dirty cinematic electronica and a suite of music for audiences to enjoy in their own meaningful locations. A new work will be premiered simultaneously across manchester jazz festival’s website, YouTube and Facebook channels each night at 6pm.

The full line up for the mjf digital originals festival is as follows:

Spaces by Night Porter – Monday January 17
Led by Leeds saxophonist/composer Emma Johnson and Manchester-based singer/composer Nishla Smith, Night Porter have created a suite of music celebrating outdoor spaces.
Audiences will be encouraged to visit such spaces near to them and listen to the pieces in the environments for which they were intended, creating a connected yet remote listening experience that each person can make their own. Audiences can also watch a new video for each piece from the comfort of their own home.

Gandering by Mark Hanslip – Tuesday January 18
A radical audio-visual work in the form of miniatures fusing four solo improvisations from fellow musicians with AI-generated imagery that itself responds in real time to the music being created. Borne out of the surreal dystopia of lockdown and responding to the barriers placed on physical and musical interaction, the resulting pieces are a fitting reflection of our recent collective experience, a breath-taking example of the potential beauty to be co-created by humans and machines and a ground-breaking methodology for creating new work.

Power Out by Sarah Heneghan – Wednesday January 19
An immersive, powerful duet between solo drummer Sarah Heneghan and contemporary dancer Megan Hatto, in which Sarah’s EDM-inspired Sheffield beats explode with dynamic lighting design, improvisation and movement. Catch the premiere of two recordings from this full-length show that was originally evolved through the mjf hothouse talent development programme.

Meet Me in the Real by Dirty Freud – Thursday January 20
The unruly prince of electronica, Ninja Tune fave and Glastonbury electronic artist brings together some cutting-edge improvisers and soulful vocalists for a set of anything-goes collaborations, mashing up their jazz lines with infectious grooves, animations and his own personal style of dirty cinematic electronica. As part of the digital festival, audiences can catch the music video premiere of Dirty Freud’s new track Fly Girl and listen to his new EP Meet Me in the Real exclusively for one week only before its general release in April.

Meet the mjf originals artists – Friday January 21
A short film for audiences to find out more about our mjf originals artists, their creative process and how they made their work. Produced by Badger and Combes and featuring interviews with Emma Johnson, Nishla Smith, Mark Hanslip, Sarah Heneghan and Dirty Freud.
The digital festival is a new addition to the festival’s annual open commissioning scheme, mjf originals.

mjf CEO and Artistic Director Steve Mead said: “mjf originals is our commissioning scheme for northern artists to create jazz-related new music. Since our very first commission in 2000, mjf originals has produced 30 major works, each premiered at one of our annual festivals.
“In 2021, we took a new approach to tackle the challenges of creating new work in different times and invited artists’ ideas on devising new work that could live in both the physical and digital realm.
“This suite of four works also allowed us to work with a wider range of artists and create more commissions than usual, and we’re really blown away with what they’ve come up with. We can’t wait to share the results with mjf audiences online, and we hope to be bringing some of this new music to the live festival later this year.”

How to watch

Your exclusive discounted stay at Whitworth Locke

We are now just four weeks away from the mjf weekend takeover at Manchester’s Escape to Freight Island from June 11 – 13.

If you’re as excited as we are, and fancy making a night (or even a weekend!) of it then read on…

We’ve teamed up with the beautiful Whitworth Locke as our official accommodation provider for the weekend.

Not only have they been so kind as put up some of our travelling musicians, they are also offering you lot a discounted stay for two people in anything from their standard studios to one of their larger suites.

Head to their website and use the discount code LOCKEDIN to bag up to 30% off.

Whitworth Locke is situated off Princess Street, just 10 minute walk from Manchester Piccadilly Station. With its stunning communal spaces and spacious, one-of-a-kind apartments, Whitworth Locke is a truly stunning place to stay.

Central. Stylish. And unlike anywhere you’ve stayed before. Wake up in your own apartment in this stunning 19th Century cotton factory, and see Manchester differently. You’ll also be able to sample the cocktails and ever-changing menu downstairs at the Peru Perdu bar and restaurant.

Check out Whitworth Locke’s website for more on their aparthotel suites and to book your exclusive discounted stay.

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.


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.


We are proud to announce that manchester jazz festival has signed up to Black Lives in Music’s Charter as one of the founding members.

Black Lives in Music – or BLiM – supports the music community to act on and achieve diversity and inclusion so we can move towards a truly representative music industry.

Recognising poor access to quality music education for those of colour, a lack of diversity in senior leadership positions and in fact a lack of overall data to throw light on the full scale of these issues, BLiM works to provide better professional development opportunities and to help realise equality for black professionals in all areas of the UK music industry. They also support organisations to challenge racism and discrimination and promote greater well-being in black musicians.

At manchester jazz festival we believe in promoting diversity and equality in all areas of our work, but we recognise this is ongoing and there is always more to be done.

mjf Artistic Director Steve Mead said: “mjf is committed to ensuring that the people with whom we work (on-stage and off-stage), the audiences we serve, and the teams behind the scenes genuinely reflect the population of our catchment area: the north of England.

“We’re proud to be one of the founding partners of Black Lives in Music. We’re working together to support mjf’s development and championing of culturally diverse work, artists and partnerships.

“Partnering with BLiM will help us strengthen our reach to diverse artists; eliminate barriers in our recruitment processes; ensure our communications speak to a diverse range of people; and refine our talent development offer to reach an even wider range of diverse new artists.

“We aspire to ensure that our work reflects not only the heritage of jazz, but the people with whom we all live.”

This week, BLiM launched a survey and are looking for responses from Black musicians and professionals. There is currently no data on Black musicians in the UK. Opportunity and access has been denied to many Black creatives in the industry, and with no formal platform to have a voice, many have gone unheard.

BLiM want to change this, and are looking for the experiences of Black musicians.

You can fill in the survey here.

Click here for more information on equality, diversity and inclusion at mjf.