I’m writing in anticipation of the budget review to be decided on March 9th, following the announcement of the cuts Manchester is facing. Specifically, I want to voice my support for the Manchester Jazz Festival, and hopefully help persuade the council that it is worth saving.
First up, to anecdotally touch on the financial impact the festival has on the city. A typical festival week for me involves being in the city centre from around midday, often until midnight or later, most days of the week (ordinarily I venture into town maybe 2 or 3 times a month). I tend to lose track of the amount of money I’ve spent on food and drink, both from the festival stalls and the surrounding pubs and restaurants. Even when I make sure we take a packed lunch, there’s an average of one meal a day still to cater for, that I otherwise wouldn’t be eating out for.
This also holds for buying music, sometimes CDs from the festival, sometimes a walk down Oldham Street to Vinyl Exchange and so on. The amount of trade the festival brings to the city centre, at a time when Manchester’s students have deserted en masse and the football season’s over (just ask a taxi driver how quiet it is…), is surely an important revenue stream for local businesses.
But really, talking about money is not even half the battle (Stewart Lee talks more eloquently than I about this here), the value of this jazz festival has a wide-reaching effect on the surrounding musical community. Again, as a punter, I’ve seen some fantastic music that would never have been realised without the support of Steve, Mick and the team. Mike Walker’s Ropes with a 25-piece string orchestra was breathtaking, and subsequently broadcast on Radio 3, helping keep Manchester on the map creatively. Equally incredible was the totally improvised set from Mick Beck, Stephen Grew, Phil Marks and Dominic Lash in 2008. As someone with more than a passing interest in free improvisation, I was amazed not just by the music, but by the large audience and their positive response. Some definite mind and ear-opening went on that day.
And, as an artist, I’m very grateful for the performance opportunities that MJF has given me, from the Beats & Pieces Big Band’s first ever gig (since then gone on to perform all over the country to great acclaim), with HAQ and 265 Quartet performances that put us in front of bigger, more receptive audiences than we could have hoped for.
It’s even had a great impact on bands of mine that have been rejected too. Skamel, the 6-piece reggae/jazz group my brother and I run, was just an idea until we managed to bring a band together specifically to record a demo for the festival in 2007. We didn’t get in, but the band has kept going and are now booking our second UK tour. We almost certainly would have procrastinated for even longer without MJF, perhaps never having got it off the ground at all. Let’s not forget and we were both attending the festival long before we were playing in jazz bands of our own, it gave us both a great inspiration, that certainly contributed to my chosen career path.
So, in conclusion, I love the Manchester Jazz Festival, it’s an important part of our cultural calendar and I look forward to it every year. We should be proud that Manchester has such a well-respected festival that is an outlet for local talent like no other, as well as attracting bigger names we wouldn’t see in the city otherwise. I fear that, if badly affected by the cuts, the cultural, as well as the economic, price would be far greater than the savings made.
So I know this was promised for yesterday (Monday 14th) but we felt that our exclusive preview track from the new HAQ album was perhaps going to be a little overshadowed by a little announcement from somebody else… But it’s here now! Hope this track, Cacillia, fully whets your appetite for the full album release next Monday – it’ll be available from the online Efpi shop from then.
Don’t forget HAQ will also be on tour from February 22nd until March 3rd… Don’t miss out!
Efpi Records is proud to announce that the brand new album by HAQ will be released on February 21st 2011, and that the band will be embarking on a 7 date tour over February and March in support of the release.
The album is called ‘Walking Walking Falling‘ and is the first full length release from the band, following on from their EP which was released in May 2009 (available here). Since then the band have had a line up change (bringing Finnish bass player Eero Tikkanen into the fold) which has altered the group dynamic and direction and has led to them producing a remarkable set of music. The majority of the tunes were composed by co-leaders Anton Hunter (guitar) and Sam Andreae (saxophone), with drummer Finlay Panter contributing the album’s final piece.
‘Walking Walking Falling‘ again features artwork by Angela Guyton, and will be available on CD and as a digital download from the Efpi online shop. HAQ are also embarking on an 7 date tour to celebrate this release, generously supported by Jazz Services through their Touring Support scheme. Dates are as follows (check the Efpi listings or the poster below for more details):
February 22nd – The Wardrobe, Leeds
February 23rd – Taylor John’s, Coventry
February 24th – Yardbird, Birmingham
February 27th – The Bridge, Newcastle
March 1st – The Forge, London
March 2nd – Lescar, Sheffield
March 3rd – Matt & Phreds, Manchester
From next week (Monday 14th) we will be offering up an exclusive track from the album to whet your appetite for the release on the 21st, so check back then…