Our 2021 mjf originals commissions announced!

We’re thrilled to announce the creation of five pioneering new works as part of the mjf originals commissioning scheme.

Ranging from AI-generated musicians and historical commemorations to immersive drum performances and dirty cinematic electronica, the pieces will be created and shared with audiences over the coming year.

The suite of five works sets a new record for the number of commissions awarded to artists in any one year by mjf, with just one or two mjf originals piece normally being created.

The 2021 mjf originals commissions are:


Meet Me in the Real by Dirty Freud. 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.

Gandering by Mark Hanslip. A radical digital audio-visual work in the form of miniatures fusing five 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 to physical and musical interaction, the resulting pieces will be a fitting reflection of our recent collective experience, as well as a ground-breaking methodology for creating new work.

Spaces by Night Porter. Led by Leeds saxophonist/composer Emma Johnson and singer/composer Nishla Smith, Night Porter will create four melodic, evocative and experiential songs tethered to specific types of space: trees, water, garden and buildings.
Audiences will be encouraged to visit such spaces near to them and to listen to the pieces in the environments for which they were intended, creating a connected yet remote listening experience that each audience member can make their own.

Elegy for the Departed: Remembering Tulsa 1921 by Alexander Douglas and Hymnos. An instrumental suite that marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Through spoken word from an informed historical perspective, archive footage and an original score for chamber jazz ensemble Hymnos, this intimate work offers an opportunity for audiences from Britain and beyond to discover the haunting, disturbing story of what happened to the Greenwood neighbourhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma a century ago, offering a chilling reminder that the triggers behind today’s #BlackLivesMatter movement have been present for generations.

Power Out by Sarah Heneghan. 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 into a full-length show that was originally evolved through the mjf hothouse talent development programme.

The mjf originals commissioning scheme supports northern artists to create jazz-related new music. Since the very first commission in 2000, mjf originals has produced 25 major works, each premiered at the annual manchester jazz festival.

mjf Artistic Director Steve Mead said: “For artists and our audiences, the mjf originals commission is a highlight of the annual festival.

“This year, we’re taking a new approach to tackle the challenges of creating new work in unpredictable times. Our values for the scheme are still the same: artist-led, high-quality, ground-breaking, northern-focussed, and championing artists from all backgrounds. But in a time when gathering large forces of musicians and audiences in a physical space is unpredictable, we still want to provide our cherished platform for artists to innovate new creations for our festival audiences.

“That’s why we’ve awarded five commissions to artists working in a range of mediums that can be shared and experienced by audiences throughout the year on various digital platforms.

“We’ll have news on this year’s live mjf activity soon, but meanwhile, we’re proud to announce these five challenging, surprising and diverse stand-alone new pieces from our 2021 mjf originals artists.”