Preview: Manchester Jazz Festival 2014 – (18-27 July)

Adrian Pallant will be reviewing 19th Manchester Jazz Festival for us. Looking forward to the festival, he offers half a dozen personal choices from the popular 10-day summer annual event. He writes:

Manchester Jazz Festival (mjf) provides a platform to demonstrate the great wealth of jazz that North-West England possesses, nurturing both young and emerging talent. The festival also attracts an abundance of national and international big names. Artistic director Steve Mead and his team will present a bustling programme of over 80 events, using eight venues. The pavilion beneath the grandeur of Manchester’s Victorian Town Hall in Albert Square is the main hub. With many tickets priced at £5 or less, as well as frequently free of charge, this is a great festival to discover new music as well as to enjoy favourite acts.

Adrian Pallant's half-dozen:

Pigfoot (Saturday 19 July – Thwaites Festival Pavilion)

A fascinating, brash, seemingly-irreverent quartet comprising the familiar names of Chris Batchelor, Oren Marshall, Liam Noble and Paul Clarvis. Their recent and aptly-titled album, 21st Century Acid Trad, hints at their audacious yet carefully-conceived alternative approach to the music of Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Sidney Bechet and others. The album is reviewed here, and the live experience promises to be entertainingly riotous.

Soft Machine Legacy + Keith Tippett (Sunday 18 July – Band on the Wall)

Legendary names John Etheridge, Roy Babbington and John Marshall will set the pulse racing of any fan of seminal prog jazzers Soft Machine. This legacy band of some 10 years also includes tenorist Theo Travis – and coupled with the appearance of hugely influential pianist Keith Tippett, a very special evening awaits.

The Bad Plus (Wednesday 23 July – RNCM Theatre)

The concept of ‘jazz piano trio’ is currently being pushed and pulled in all manner of innovative directions, The Bad Plus being no exception. Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson and David King have recently released an album re-creating Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring but Stravinsky's publishers Boosey & Hawkes are not allowing performances in Europe. This only UK concert by the group will feature material from their next album.

Anton Hunter’s Article XI – commission (Thursday 24 July – Central Library, Performance Space)

Manchester-based guitarist and composer Anton Hunter’s new project (to be premièred in the newly-restored Central Library) intriguingly takes the concept of improvisation onto a larger platform, experimenting and amalgamating phrases provided to and performed by an ensemble of eleven local jazz instrumentalists (He wrote for LondonJazz News when he received the commission).

Beats & Pieces Big Band (Friday 25 July – Thwaites Festival Pavilion)

One of the new breed of progressive jazz big bands, led by inspirational Manchester-based musician Ben Cottrell, Beats & Pieces continue to garner international renown for their own punchy compositions, as well as impressive reworkings of Bowie, Radiohead, etc. Named ‘Ensemble of the Year’ at the 2014 Parliamentary Jazz Awards, the band are anticipated to reveal their latest work, as well as perhaps a few high-energy old favourites.

Rachael Cohen Quartet (Saturday 26 July – Thwaites Festival Pavilion)

Young alto saxophonist and composer Rachael Cohen’s debut release last year, Halftime, presented a delightfully assured programme of mainly original compositions (REVIEWED HERE). With a beautifully rounded mellow tone and a great empathy with fellow musicians Phil Robson, Nick Jurd and James Bashford, this performance is sure to catch the relaxed summertime vibe of Albert Square.

Other highlights include Arun Ghosh, Greater Manchester Jazz Orchestra, Simon Read Octet, Zoe Gilby, Booker T Jones, Nick Malcolm Quartet, Adam Fairhall, Alexander Hawkins, Jonathan Silk Big Band, Tori Freestone, Natalie Williams and Hackney Colliery Band

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