Once again, the Manchester Jazz Festival is upon us, we’ll be there most of the week indulging in posh burgers, foreign lager and loads of jazz. If you’re finding the programme a bit daunting, allow us to talk you through the week, with our Top Ten Gigs You Shouldn’t Miss. In chronological order of course, so no-one’s offended. I’ve also assumed that Stan Sulzmann and John Surman are already on your lists so you don’t need to be told twice…
1. Alice Zawadzki – Fri 13th 10pm – Matt & Phreds. Alice is a vocalist many of you will know, she’s a frequent feature of our Freedom Principle nights, and always brings some beautiful music with her. This gig she’s expanded her band from a quintet to sextet with the addition of our very own Ben Cottrell on tenor saxophone. Expect a wide range of material from all round the world, and from Alice herself.
2. A Greater Horror – Sat 14th 3pm – Festival Pavillion. A relatively new group on the Manchester scene, A Greater Horror have nevertheless found the time to play not once but twice for Freedom Principle at Sandbar. Bringing years of electronic experimentation into a piano trio format, combined with a healthy obsession with pushing boundaries wherever possible, this makes for an exciting dynamic gig. They’ll be launching their debut self-released EP at this gig too.
3. Roller Trio – Mon 16th 11:45am – Festival Pavillion. Winners of last year’s Peter Whittingham Jazz Award, this young sax/guitar/drums trio from Leeds are making some big waves nationally already. Their debut album is out in August on F-ire Presents and is sure to showcase their own brand of improv-meets-jazz-meets-electronics-meets-rock. They’ll be on the radio soon too, as later on in the evening they’re playing at a live recording hosted by Jazz on 3 and BBC Introducing.
4. HSQ + 2 Mon 16th 1pm - St. Ann’s Church. Saxophone quartet HSQ have a wide palette of sound already; between the four of them they play bass sax all the way up to soprano, plus flute and clarinet from time to time. For this gig they’re expanding further by adding harpist Rachel Gladwin and percussionist Andy Hay, and drawing on influences from classical and British roots music as well as jazz as you’d expect. A unique gig, that’s for sure, name us any other time you’ve seen a harp and bass sax play together on a jazz gig? No? Thought not…
5. Phil Meadows Group – Tues 17th 11:45am – Festival Pavillion. A sax player that will be known to many of you, originally from Bolton, this is his brand new quintet formed on arrival in that-there-London. Expect some fantastic playing from all the band, including the much-talked-about Laura Jurd on trumpet, all framed within some fresh compositions, while still respecting the jazz tradition. (And then stick around for Steve Hawkins/Sam Healey quintet for some hard-hitting be-bop and beyond. Those familiar with Sam’s blazing solos in Beats & Pieces will know not to miss this.)
6. Noose – Weds 18th 11:45am – Festival Pavillion. We first happened upon Noose when Beats & Pieces were playing on the same bill as them at last year’s Mostly Jazz festival in Birmingham. Made up of an unusual line-up of vocals, drums, piano and lead by tenor saxophonist Luis Mather, they create a really intriguing soundworld; blendinga range of influences including “mathematical concepts such as fractal geometry.” All we know is they’ve blown us away each time we’ve seen them, and I suspect they’ll do it again
7. Kyran Matthews Quartet – Weds 18th 3pm – Festival Pavillion. Another rising star from the RNCM, you might have seen Kyran once or twice covering a sax chair in the Beats & Pieces Big Band, he’s definitely one to look out for, and this gig should be a great showcase. Joined by Beats & Pieces tenor man Ben Watte, this “chordless” quartet have a strong interest in Scandinavian jazz, which comes through in their originals, here played alongside some arrangements of music by Julian Arguelles and others.
8. Sons of Kemet/Anton Hunter Trio – Thurs 19th 8pm – Band on the Wall. Obviously there’s a vested interest here, with the debut of Anton Hunter’s brand new trio (rehearsals are sounding great so far, watch this space for some footage soon), but the main event is exciting enough to warrant inclusion on this list. Led by saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, and completed by Oren Marshall on tuba (he’s phenomenal, to be seen to be believed) with Seb Roachford AND Tom Skinner on drums. Heavy doesn’t even come close. There aren’t many places you can hear music like this, as their album’s not even out yet, so get yourself to Band on the Wall! (and come early because Anton starts at 8pm sharp…)
9. Unfurl + Matt Owens Ensemble – Fri 20th 2:15pm – Festival Pavillion. An intriguing double-bill featuring two composers previously selected for the MJF Originals strand, both drawing musics from around the world into an improvisational setting. Olivia Moore’s Unfurl project has long been associated with Indian music, and blending Egyptian percussion into the mix alongside stalwarts of the Manchester jazz scene Gavin Barras and Jim Faulkner. Matt Owens looks more west than east, and brings influences from Latin America (he’s been a prominent force on this scene in Manchester) and New Orleans, alongside classical minimalism. A similarly heavyweight band ensures this’ll be a double-bill not to miss.
10. Neil Yates’ Five Countries Trio – Sat 21st 12:30pm – Festival Pavillion. We’ve been waiting for this album to be released since we heard this trumpet/guitar/percussion trio make it’s debut at MJF 2007. And it’s not disappointed. Neil continues his journey through folk music that he started with the excellent “New Origins” ‘celtic-jazz’ album. This trio presents a more reflective mood, with greater space, and casting the net wider, with eastern European folk being thrown into the mix thanks to guitarist Zsolte Bende’s presence.
Should be another great year! Let us know your favourites in the comments below, or find us on Twitter, and keep your eyes peeled for some Efpi Sampler CDs. See you out there!
Posted: July 10th, 2012 | Author: Anton | Filed under: General news, Misc, Uncategorized | No Comments »