Manchester Jazz Festival and The Met have joined forces for an exciting collaboration of intimate gigs in 2021.

From January to April, music lovers can be in the audience for a diverse programme of live performances brought to you by Manchester’s longest running music festival at the popular Bury-based venue .

Audiences have the chance to be part of an exclusive, intimate audience in The Met, or to join live streaming audiences across the world.

Unfortunately, as the Covid-19 situation evolves we have had to cancel the first three of these gigs. We will keep you updated with any further programme changes.

The programme includes:

*CANCELLED* Friday 22 January – Camilla George Quartet 
The MOBO-nominated, Nigerian-born saxophonist and star of award-winning Jazz Jamaica, leads her own critically-acclaimed project showcasing the stars of the new UK jazz scene. Her music is a hypnotising blend of Afrofuturism, hip hop and jazz, and is politically minded and heavily linked with African history.

*CANCELLED* Saturday 20 February – Dennis Rollins’ Velocity Trio
British trombone player Dennis Rollins MBE has established a reputation as an artist of excellence, and has lent his unique talents to some of the world’s top jazz and pop personalities such as Courtney Pine, Maceo Parker, Jamiroquai, US3, The Brand New Heavies, Blur, Monty Alexander, Pee Wee Ellis and Jean Toussaint. His Velocity Trio is a brilliant marriage of refined contemporary jazz arrangements with simmering grooves that appeals to multiple generations of jazz, funk and world music fans.

*CANCELLED* Friday 26 March – John Helliwell’s Ever Open Door
Ever Open Door is an eclectic collection of ballads, songs, and folk tunes from an intimate sextet led by the enigmatic sax legend that is John Helliwell. Here, his lyrical and heartfelt sound is bathed in strings and the soulful wash of the Hammond, in the hands of another northern musical enigma, John Ellis.

Friday 23 April – The Breath
Ríoghnach Connolly and Stuart McCallum are the creative heart of BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominees The Breath. Ríoghnach’s deeply soulful, utterly engaging, stop-you-in-your-tracks voice coupled with Stuart’s understated brilliance and their exquisitely crafted songs give The Breath such emotional depth.

Steve Mead, mjf CEO and Artistic Director, said: “Along with the rest of the population we’ve been desperate to see the return of live music and are excited to announce this series of intimate gigs from some of the UK’s most exciting and diverse jazz artists.
“Audiences can enjoy the music live at The Met by booking a limited number of individual tickets or tables in the venue, or from the comfort of their own homes via a live stream.
“We formed a great partnership with The Met after streaming some of our 25th anniversary festival with them earlier this year. We’re thrilled to be back in the venue and working with them again.”

Audiences should keep their eyes peeled for news on mjf2021 which will be announced next year.

The Met have introduced a number of extra measures to ensure the venue is COVID-safe for staff and audiences including additional cleaning, socially distanced seating and table service.

Those purchasing online tickets will be able to watch their chosen show for seven days.

Tickets for mjf @ The Met are on sale now here.

mjf is delighted to announce a trio of development and performance opportunities for artists.

We are now inviting artists to submit ideas for new work as part of the mjf originals commissions scheme.
The open commissioning scheme supports northern artists from all backgrounds to create high-quality, ground-breaking new work to be premiered live at the annual festival and beyond. And this year, we’re calling on artists to get creative and embrace the challenges of devising new work during the global pandemic.

We can now also announce the launch of mjf soundcheck, our free, online development programme for diverse musicians aged 18 – 25 across Greater Manchester. In this inaugural round of the new project, up to ten young musicians at the start of their careers can benefit from industry mentors and bespoke workshops as they are encouraged to make new work using improvisation or jazz for the first time.

In addition to this, we have extended the current round of mjf hothouse, our in house talent development scheme for more established artists. We will continue to work with our current cohort of six artists until April 2021 offering them further bespoke support to guide them through the COVID-19 pandemic on areas such as recording and broadcasting from home, mental health and wellbeing and planning around uncertainty.

Steve Mead, mjf CEO and Artistic Director, said: “This has been a really tough year for musicians and for live music so it feels positive for us to end 2020 by announcing this trio of opportunities for artists.

“mjf understands the pressures on independent artists and we want to support brave, new ideas that push the boundaries of jazz and help people who demonstrate potential.

“Thanks to the launch of our new mjf soundcheck scheme for younger musicians, we can now support artists at all stages of their career. We hope musicians will graduate on to programmes such as mjf hothouse and then in a few years be premiering new work with us through the mjf originals commissioning scheme.

“In addition to these schemes, the team is working with event partners on potential plans for our 2021 festival , which we’ll announce in due course. Artists should keep their eyes peeled for when general submissions to play at mjf2021 open in the new year.”

We are accepting applications for the first round of mjf soundcheck until noon on Friday 15 January.

Artists have until noon on Monday 25 January to submit their ideas for the mjf originals commissions.

The next round of hothouse will open for new artist applications in 2021.

For more information on each scheme click here.

The trio of artist development schemes have been made possible thanks to funding from Arts Council England, Help Musicians UK, PRS Foundation, Youth Music and Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Manchester Jazz Festival has been awarded £64,968 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to ensure we have a sustainable future through the coronavirus pandemic.

The investment, administered and awarded by Arts Council England, will allow mjf to re-stabilise, research and deliver a hybrid live / online festival in 2021 and continue redevelop our talent development work to that supports and champions diverse up and coming artists and champion diversity.

mjf CEO and Artistic Director Steve Mead said: “We are so grateful to be named as one of the recipients of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. This year has been a turbulent time not only for mjf, but also for artists and all those working behind the scenes in the north’s west’s wider music ecology.
“This vital lifeline will allow us to play our part in seeing supporting artists and the city’s music scene through these difficult times.”

Manchester Jazz Festival is the city’s longest running music festival, presenting exciting new work in venues across the city each May. We also champion diverse up and coming artists through our commissioning and deliver year round in-house talent development programmes such as mjf hothouse.

Earlier this year, mjf was forced cancel the physical 25th anniversary festival and move all content online. Although mjf paid full cancellation fees to its programmed artists and ensured that mjf’s virtual festival was a resounding success, it meant virtually nearly all projected income from the 2020 festival was lost.

mjf is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support as part of the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England.

Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said: “Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”

Culture Secretary said: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.
“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”

Manchester Jazz Festival simply could not take place each year without the rich mix of support from theatres and independent venues across city and the dedicated staff that work behind the scenes within them.

As the city’s longest running music festival, we’ve been devastated to read about forced cut backs and redundancies at arts organisations in Manchester, many of whom have shown us such amazing support over our 25 years.

Yesterday’s Government announcement of a £1.57 billion rescue package to help UK culture weather the impact of coronavirus is an incredible boost that could not come soon enough.

Live music, the arts and culture brings millions of pounds to our region each year and are vital to local employment and our economy more widely. But let’s not forget, they also bring so much joy and connects us as a community and a city in so many ways.

We must wait to see how this support is rolled out and work together to find a real way forward.

In the meantime, supporting arts and culture in the city and beyond is crucial. If you can, buy a ticket for an online gig, pay for and download an album from your favourite regional artist or buy a gift voucher or t-shirt from a Greater Manchester venue.

A world without arts and culture is unthinkable and we must unite to do all we can to support this industry.

Kirsty Fairclough, Chair of the mjf Board of Trustees.


Watch live on United We Stream


Live music from Ed Kainyek Hidden Gems quartet

A look at what’s to come this weekend

Feature on some of the mjf hothouse artists you’ll hear from this festival, featuring Thanda Gumede, Francine Luce, Sarah Heneghan, Lara Jones, ad Faye MacCalman


Live music from Jenna G & George King

mjf originals 25@25 – Interviews, memories and archive footage from commissioned artists over the years, featuring Maja Bugge, Ben Cottrell and Mike Hall

Specially commissioned piece on Olivia Moore by filmmaker Antony Barkworth Knight

10- 11pm

Live music from Kirsty Almeida


Streamed on mjf Facebook and YouTube  

12 – 3pm

At home with Nikki Iles – Interview, insights and expert tips into pianist and composer’s Nikki Iles

Live music from Nani direct from her Amsterdam living room

Efpi Presents – New music and chat from artists from Efpi record label featuring Ben Cottrell and Johnny Hunter

5 – 7pm

mjf introduces Round Table – We ask the experts to review the latest releases from Yaatri, Beyond Albedo and Nishla Smith

A look back at live music at Manchester favourites Matt & Phreds

7 – 9pm

mjf originals 25@25 – Interviews, memories and archive footage from commissioned artists over the years, featuring Olivia Moore, George King and Matt Owens

The best of mjf2019 – performances from Equilibrium, Werkha and Roller Trio

Music from Nikki Iles Jazz Orchestra

9 – 10.45pm

Online premiere of moving biopic Richard Turner: A Life in Music, introduced by Dr Andy Willis, Prof. Film Studies Professor at the Uni of Salford, and director Rob Cope



Streamed on mjf Facebook and YouTube  

12 – 3pm
At home with Byron Wallen – Interview, insights and expert tips

A live living room concert from Ben Cipolla

Efpi Presents – New music and chat from artists from Efpi record label featuring Ben Cottrell, Graham South and Gemma Bass

5 – 7pm

mjf introduces Round Table – We ask the experts to review the latest releases from Tara Cunningham Quartet, Major Ruse and Archipelago

Music from Vula Viel – At home with Bex Birch and her gyil, plus gig footage from her band

mjf originals 25@25 – Interviews, memories and archive footage from commissioned artists over the years, featuring Mike Walker, Stuart McCallum and Anton Hunter

Mike Walker: Ropes in concert

9 – 10pm

The Future of Live Music in Lockdown. Join mjf chair Dr Kirsty Fairclough as she leads a lively panel discussion on the future of gigging with special guests Sacha Lord (Warehouse project/ Parklife), Richard Leese (Manchester City Council), Michelle Kuypers (North Sea Jazz Festival), Rioghnach Connolly (artist) and Yemi Bolatiwa (artist). Submit your questions live on Facebook during this Question Time-style event

10 – 11.00pm

Both Sides of Africa – Catch the full performance our mjf2019 original commission with Nani Noam Vazana and Able Selaocoe



Watch live on United We Stream

12 – 4.30pm

Live music and specially recorded performances from mjf hothouse artists, Ubunye feat. Thanda Gumede, Yaatri, Sarah Heneghan, Lara Jones, Archipelago, and Nishla Smith and Tom Harris

Specially recorded performance from Lewis Wright and Kit Downes

Specially commissioned pieces by filmmaker Antony Barkworth Knight featuring Rioghnagh Connolly and John Ellis

Interviews and discussion with recent graduates of mjf hothouse, including Faye MacCalman, Sarah Heneghan and Lara Jones

4.30 – 8pm

John Helliwell: The story so far… An interview with the Supertramp legend himself

The best of mjf2019 – performances from Sarah Tandy Quintet, Skeltr and Jason Singh and the Adivasi Quintet

Join a quartet of live musicians featuring Jose Dias and Adam Fairhall as they improvise live music to silent film footage of Manchester in the 1910s

mjf originals 25@25 – Interviews, memories and archive footage from commissioned artists over the years, featuring John Ellis, Andy Stamatakis Brown and Esther Swift

8 – 9.30pm

Specially commissioned piece by filmmaker Antony Barkworth Knight featuring 808 State’s Graham Massey

Music from mjf hothouse artist Francine Luce

Premiere of the full performance of mjf2019 original commission and festival opener Mancunity by Andy Scott, introduced with a short interview with the composer

9.30 – 10.30pm

Festival finale and live music from Baked a la Ska, the super charged ska monsters on a rampage through the dancefloors of the UK

Music and film premieres, unseen archive footage and live concerts from stages and living rooms across the north west will all feature in Manchester Jazz Festival’s 25th online anniversary.

mjf2020: Jazz Unlocked, produced in partnership with Jazz North, will stream across the festival’s social channels from May 21 – 24.

The festival’s opening and closing days will also see live music, special features and new recordings streamed with United We Stream, the newly launched GMCA streaming platform set up to support the region’s night time economy and Greater Manchester’s Mayor’s charity Nordoff Robbins.

The festival team can now reveal mjf2020: Jazz Unlocked will feature:

• A series of specially staged, socially distanced live sets from Baked a la Ska, Kirsty Almeida, Jenna G and George King, Ed Kainyek Hidden Gems Quartet, and the latest acts from mjf’s bespoke artist development scheme hothouse: Archipelago, Ubunye ft. Thanda Gumede, Power Out by Sarah Heneghan, and Lara Jones: EnsŌ.

• Live streams from the living rooms, gardens and balconies of Nani Noam Vazana, Ben Cipolla and Nishla Smith & Tom Harris.

• Exclusive new artist interviews and previously unseen footage looking back at 25 years of mjf originals commissions, featuring Mike Walker, John Ellis, Esther Swift and many others.

• Features from Manchester-based Efpi Records with new music and discussion on improvised music made under lockdown.

• Online premieres of Rob Cope’s moving biopic of trumpeter Richard Turner: A Life in Music and a brand new feature film of Mancunity, mjf2019’s opener and original commission by Andy Scott.

• A collection of features from filmmaker Antony Barkworth Knight’s Counterpoint series, spotlighting the creative genius of 808 State’s Graham Massey, HoneyFEET’s Rioghnagh Connolly, Cinematic Orchestra’s John Ellis and Unfurl’s Olivia Moore.

Many more acts, features and artist video launches are still to be announced.

Broadcasts will run from 8pm – 11pm on 21 May, throughout the days on 22 and 23 May and from 12noon to 11pm on Sunday 24 May, across the mjf, Jazz North and UWS platforms.

Manchester’s longest running music festival had been due to mark its first quarter century this May but was forced to halt its physical gigs as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

All artists originally contracted to play mjf2020 were paid in full and the festival are now including as many of them as possible in the online line-up, for audiences to enjoy in their own homes.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest news.

For more information on Jazz North head to their website, Twitter or Facebook.

On 21 & 24 May, you can also watch the stream on United We Stream’s website, Twitter and Facebook.

Manchester Jazz Festival’s 25th anniversary is going digital!

mjf2020: Jazz Unlocked will stream across the festival’s social channels from May 21 – 24, produced in partnership with Jazz North.

Join us for four days of unseen footage, exclusive artist interviews, a look back over 25 years of new music and of course some live gigs.

To help us stage some socially distanced live performances by festival artists, we’re also partnering with United We Stream, the newly launched GMCA streaming website set up to support the region’s night time economy and Greater Manchester’s Mayor’s Charity Nordoff Robbins music therapy, who’ll stream the festival across their channels on Thursday 21 and Sunday 24 May.

Manchester’s longest running music festival had been due to mark their first quarter century this May but was forced to halt its physical gigs as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

All artists originally contracted to play mjf2020 were paid in full and are now working on performances for audiences to enjoy in their own homes. The mjf2020: Jazz Unlocked line up will be announced in mid-May.

mjf Artistic Director Steve Mead said: “A huge amount of work had gone into making mjf2020 an unforgettable 25th anniversary for the festival. After the initial disappointment of cancelling our physical gigs across the city, we dusted ourselves off and set about creating four days of equally impressive content to share across our digital channels instead.

“Long-time supporters of mjf will remember we were forced to cancel our very first festival back in 1996 on the day when the first Manchester bomb rocked the city, so it’s a strange book end to our first quarter century that we were force to rethink this year, our 25th anniversary. We couldn’t be stopped in 1996 and we won’t be stopped now.
“We’re delighted to team up with Jazz North and United We Stream to bring you an all new, all digital and very much unforgettable festival, mjf2020: Jazz Unlocked.”

Jazz North, a strategic development agency building new models for jazz delivery across the north of England, will be producing partners of this year’s digital festival.

Jazz North Executive Director Lesley Jackson said: “mjf2020: Jazz Unlocked illustrates the resilience and adaptability of this amazing sector, so we are thrilled to be working with mjf to help move this prestigious festival online.”

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram  and Twitter to stay up to date with all the mjf2020: Jazz Unlocked news.

You can catch United We Stream on their website, Twitter and Facebook.

It is with great sadness we announce that this year’s Manchester Jazz Festival is cancelled.

Along with the rest of the population, our hope is that the situation surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic improves in the coming months. However it is too great a risk for our staff, artists and partners to embark on delivering large scale events across the city during the worst public health crisis in a generation.

Manchester Jazz Festival formed in 1996 and has now become the city’s longest-running music festival. Our very first festival was cancelled on the day due to the city centre bomb in Manchester, so it is a strange book end to the first quarter century of our history that this, our 25th anniversary, will also be cancelled.

We know this news will come as a disappointment and we’d like to reassure everyone that we will be back in 2021. Those who have bought tickets to this year’s festival will be entitled to a full refund and should contact the booking agent they used to make their original purchase.

In the meantime, we’ll be working on supporting all artists across the North West and beyond. Please stay tuned over the coming months as we switch our focus to digital projects, so we can continue celebrate the work of our extraordinary artists with our loyal audiences.

Some of our partner venues may continue with the festival events they had programmed between May 21 -25. Although these gigs will no longer be part of mjf2020, if they are able to continue we ask you to support these events where you can.

mjf Artistic Director Steve Mead, said: “It’s with a heavy heart that we’re forced to announce the cancellation of mjf 2020. The festival team has been working hard all year round towards this year’s event, and artists – our greatest asset – are now enduring a sudden downturn in their livelihoods.

“Although I won’t be there with you in person to share their inspiring music, we’re turning our attention to digital platforms to share some of their music with you instead. Music will keep our spirits high.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is a really worrying situation and we hope everyone is getting the support they need to stay happy and healthy.

We know the necessary cancellation of gigs, festivals and encouraged isolation is adding extra stress to artists and venues across the country.

We’ve put together some useful links of where you might be able to find up to date advice:

Statement from Arts Council England

Musician’s Union Advice
Health & Welfare Support from Help Musicians UK

Advice on Web Streaming
Advice from UK Music
BBC advice on working from home

Government advice on those affected financially by Coronavirus
Petition from Music Venues Trust
Music Minds Matter
Bandcamp waive revenue share
Tutti Resources for creatives

ISM (Incorporated Society of Musicians)


It’s official – mjf2020 is almost here!

The 25th Manchester Jazz Festival will take place from 21 – 25 May, and it’s set to be bigger and better than ever before.

We’ve announced the majority of the venues where you can catch this year’s special anniversary event.

Back by popular demand is The Whiskey Jar, where NQ Jazz will be running more gigs featuring the very best from the UK and International Jazz scene.

We’re excited to make a return to the iconic Band on the Wall for a weekender of big names and emerging artists, and free concerts.

Also returning as mjf venues are the RNCM for our popular series of larger concerts, and St Ann’s Church where audiences can catch more wonderful creations and one-off performances.

As always, Matt and Phreds are a staple of this year’s festival and they’ve packed more gigs in than ever before across the Bank Holiday Weekend.

We’ve also teamed up with HOME to bring you a series of jazz-themed films in the run up to the festival.

New to this year’s festival is The Stoller Hall, where we’ll be offering you the chance to see a big name in their state of the art building.

To check out all the venues in this year’s festival here.

We’ll be making more announcements on our festival hub and of course this year’s line up very soon. Make sure you never miss an announcement by signing up to our newsletter.