What to look out for at mjf 2016

One of the joys of each festival is looking through the completed programme and looking forward to experiencing some of the one-offs, firsts and gems that you just won’t get anywhere else. Here are some of my highlights that I hope will inspire you to rethink, rehear, remix and rediscover jazz.

Have you ever wondered What Happens in Our Brain When We Improvise? I decided to RE-THINK the question to mark Manchester’s year as the European City of Science: this sci-bar talk with illustrated music in the enchanting Portico Library may well provide more questions than answers! To RETHINK the context for creating jazz from surprising sources, Vyamanikal combines atmospheric visuals with evocative improvisations featuring saxophone and the magnificent church organ, making for a mesmerising late-night experience in St Ann’s Church.

From various European jazz travels, I’ve been eager to bring to mjf Thomas de Pourquery, a larger-than-life character on the French music scene, and his band Supersonic, who REHEAR Sun Ra; then there’s the vibrant Atom String Quartet – Polish virtuosi who REHEAR chamber music, turning it on its head. Don’t miss these debuts – you won’t see them elsewhere in the UK.

Join Ben Cottrell to REDISCOVER the classic Stan Getz work for strings Focus, with his New Seeing, which for me really sums up what we’re all about: supporting new music, pushing it forward, celebrating Mancunian artists and creating a special occasion for mjf audiences.  REDISCOVER too what first tempted you to jazz, with talented trumpeter Alexandra Ridout – at only 17, she’s the new BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year and I’m really excited that mjf is her first major date: one to watch for the future.

Tamar Osborn may be a new name to many listeners – I was enthralled by her deft flute and sax playing, which graces the sound of Collocutor to REMIX Indian, African and undulating rhythmic jazz. And I love Lauren Kinsella’s spine-tingling voice; Snowpoet brings her songwriting with Chris Hyson to life as they REMIX poetry, subtle electronics, ambient sound and jazz. It’ll be a magical close to this year’s festival.

      – Steve Mead, Artistic Director