Manchester Jazz Festival - Interim Report

Ultra High Flamenco- Manchester Jazz Festival 2013
Adrian Pallant has sent in his first report from the Manchester Jazz Festival

This year's Manchester Jazz Festival has got off to a rip-roaring start! Now a well-established event in the city - in it's 18th year! - proceedings are again superbly organised by Steve Mead and a committed band of staff and volunteers, and appreciated by musicians and audiences alike.

Friday evening provided a great kick-off, with Jez Nelson presenting BBC Jazz on 3's 'BBC Introducing' at Band on the Wall - a showcase for four up-and-coming bands on the UK jazz scene, to be broadcast on 5 August. An attentive, ballot-invited audience warmed to Bristol-based 'Moonlight Saving Time' with their easy-going precision and improvisation, led by the enigmatic, commanding figure of vocalist Emily Wright (returning for a full set on Monday). 'Twelveheads' is actually a four-headed 'beast' of drummer Peter Ibbetson's, with bass and two tenors thrashing things out - an earthy, rich, Polar Bear-influenced sound, though with its own identity (great tenor duetting). Seven-piece 'Metamorphic' (the doubling-up on this one being double basses), led by pianist Laura Cole, presented a highly original set, with much use made of 'instrumental' vocals and the powerful concoction of alto/soprano saxes and bass clarinet. Rounding off the evening were the considerable talents of Dominic J Marshall's piano trio - a distinctive style with a hint not just of Django Bates, but also of Jamie Cullum.

Twelveheads - Manchester Jazz Festival 2013

Day Two saw the Festival's Albert Square 'campus' - with its large teepee venue (photo above) under the Town Hall clock (which grandly chimes in the beginning of each afternoon gig!) - bathed in hot Summer sunshine. It's a great, relaxed 'hang' for artists and concert-goers, whilst also attracting the busy city's passers-by to become involved in the happy vibe, the teepee hosting great afternoon quartets both from Yazz Ahmed and Trish Clowes' Tangent, as well as the popular and entertaining Ultra High Flamenco.

With several more days to come - and a full and varied programme from local, national and international artists - mjf is already, once again, proving itself to be the jewel in the Northern crown of jazz festivals.

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