Manchester’s longest running music event and Europe’s most adventurous jazz festival returns for its 23rd year with 96 gigs across the city, featuring a line-up of local and international talent.

The full programme is now live at and features UK and world premieres, the best in emerging talent, gems from across the North West and Great Britain, a French day showcasing our European cousins and firm favourites making a welcome return to the festival.

These memorable musical encounters will be presented in the Festival Square and luxurious Salon Perdu Spiegeltent in Albert Square as well as venues across the city.

Festival highlights include:

Cross Currents Trio featuring Dave Holland, Zakir Hussain, Chris Potter

Three living legends of jazz unite in a rare UK performance fusing contemporary jazz and world music virtuosity.

The 2018 Irwin Mitchell mjf originals commission – Esther Swift: Light Gatherer

Esther’s interest in poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s contribution to the arts, and especially the voice she gives to women, has inspired her to deconstruct Duffy’s works and create new texts using the same themes.

Trish Clowes’ My Iris

Trish’s compositions, conveyed by distinctive players from the UK scene and inspired by Wayne Shorter, Joni Mitchell and Björk, explore rich melody and dramatic contrast, from full throttle to the most delicate and intricate whispers.

Yazz Ahmed’s Electric Dreams

British-Bahraini Yazz is a distinctive and intelligent soloist and composer. Her latest project is an ongoing series of innovative live collaborations with her favourite artists using electronics, live looping and sampling to explore contemporary jazz from a personal angle.

Arun Ghosh

Arun, one of the UK’s most charismatic artists and passionate communicators, returns to profile new music from album But Where Are You Really From? which fuses his trademark South-Asian folk and jazz with elements of rock, classical, folk and ambient music.

Ashley Henry Trio

Ashley has become one of the UK’s hotly-tipped stars. From a new generation referencing J Dilla, Robert Glasper and Madlib, yet steeped in the tradition of the piano masters, he leads this relaxed but driving trio with an aesthetic and sensitivity beyond his years.

Henry Spencer and Juncture

Astonishing dynamic variety, compositional flair and a measured vigour mark out this fast-rising star of the London scene and his multi-award-winning and close-knit band. Emotive and evocative music that touches jazz, rock and minimalism and makes for an energising sound of its own.

Norma Winstone, Klaus Gesing, Glauco Venier with special guest Abel Selaocoe

Descansado – Songs for Films is the trio’s fifth recording together, boasting a beguiling set of personal interpretations of these broad-ranging and often overlooked songs. Norma’s crystalline tone, vast range and open versatility have graced an astonishing international performance and recording career that stretches back over decades.

Hackney Colliery Band 

Inspired by New Orleans marching bands, Balkan beats, hip-hop, sizzling Latin brass and high-octane rock, with a few unexpected covers of the likes of Goldie, The Prodigy, Kanye West and even Toto, Hackney Colliery Band bring the UK colliery brass band tradition bang up to date.


Fusing the folk and urban traditions of her Zambian homeland with those of her Scottish roots and London’s eclectic music scene, Namvula crosses boundaries with a dancing spirit, transporting you into different worlds, yet staying firmly rooted in African soil.

Night & Day Café will be a new venue this year, where Mancunian singer-songwriter Mali Hayes and Bristol band We Are Leif perform. Making a welcome return, Jazz North’s northern line presents nine free gigs from the best northern jazz talent.

A selection of jazz brunches and afternoon teas return to Manchester’s Midland Hotel comjf Executive Director EJ Trivett said: “manchester jazz festival is fast becoming the go-to destination for new music and jazz in the UK, and we are equally excited about our future as we are proud of our long-standing history.

“In such an important year marking the centenary of Suffrage, mjf 2018 presents a powerful platform which celebrates female artists and composers, alongside a broad, diverse cohort of talented local to international musicians.

“As audiences demand more unique, immersive experiences, mjf continues to harness the improvisational spirit of jazz, delivering unmissable never to be repeated moments.”

The Festival Square once again centres around Albert Square and plays host to a selection of free music, food and drink throughout the festival. mjf is pleased to announce Festival Square this year features the Brightside Festival Bar, sponsored by the Radcliffe craft brewers, The Brightside Brewing Company.

The luxurious Salon Perdu returns as the star attraction in Albert Square. This intimate Art Nouveau venue is one of the few remaining Spiegeltent structures left in the world and packs plenty of personality. Gigs in the Salon Perdu include Afro-funk party monsters Agbeko who open mjf on their tour of the festival circuit, singer songwriter Emily Saunders ESB, high energy Manchester favourites Glowrogues and a special gig to mark the 10th anniversary of the premiere of Beats & Pieces at mjf.

Combining a winning formula of exceptional food and quality music in a delightful setting. Further gigs take place throughout the festival at RNCM, Matt & Phreds, Band on the Wall and St Ann’s Church.

The mjf introduces strand continues to showcases young talent including hip hop, jazz and metal fusions from Slow Loris, minimalist jazz riffs, dark bass lines and haunting melodies from Freese Trio, soulful sounds from Mamilah and raucous Leeds-based band Skwid Ink.

The festival has been funded with support from Arts Council England, Manchester City Council, the PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development programme, Irwin Mitchell Solicitors and Greater Manchester Combined Authority.  

With limited capacity at many events, we advise early booking. mjf news, tickets and booking information can be found at          


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