Monday starts off with some jazz in the performance space in the beautifully renovated Central Library. The performances echoes through the ears of readers in the whole library, and is truly is a unique experience. It’s hard to find a seat, so I’m glad I turned up early.
I wasn’t actually expecting it to be full, but clearly the space and prestige of the festival is enough to get people down on a Monday afternoon, even on a rare sunny day in Manchester. With five minutes to go people start scrambling for the last few seats, most succumbing to the fact they must stand for the duration of the performance. It’s a weird feeling listening to jazz in such a formal setting but as the set goes on you start to hear the low rumble of chatter underneath the music which makes the whole setting much more casual. Everyone is clearly very into the first act, Matt Holbarn Quartet. Now, I don’t know much about jazz but the musicians are clearly very talented performing some straight forward swing jazz. The second act however, John Bailey Quintet, impress with weird time signatures and trippy, unsettling harmonies that are wonderfully complex. Last is Manjula who were heavily influenced by African Latin vibes. A chorus of percussion accompanied by a double base and guitar gets everyone foot tapping. A really good end to an inspiring insight into fresh UK talent.
Tuesday starts with an exploration of Hulme. I was in search of the old grounds of Hulme Crescents and stumbled upon the old Hippodrome, where bands like the Beatles once played. After a feeble attempt to get in, we gave up and googled images of the majestic inside. What a shame such a beautiful building is going to waste however rumours of it revival have been thrown around (no concrete plans have been put in place as of yet). For a detailed look at the inside, click here.
Then was my first trip to HOME to see 52 Tuesdays as part of LGBT festival Poutfest. Filmed only on Tuesdays, chronologically over a year, this narrative features a daughter coming to terms with her mother transitioning. Whilst being very heartfelt and raw, this film challenges normal creative constructs and explores film making as a natural process, happening in real time. Highly recommend watching if you can get your hands on a copy.
Wednesday is an impromptu visit to the opening of “Pub Dogs of Manchester” exhibition sandwiched between two interviews. Queue desperate attempt to take photo of adorable dogs in Kosmonaut:
Thursday brings a rather full day starting with the childish adventure Run Wild, Child. It started to feel a little stressful in the Cath Kidston, King Street store where one of the clues were hidden and the poor sales assistant was watching a store full of kids swinging their arms dangerously near all the flowery china. After sheepishly wandering around town, fully aware that we are the oldest participants without any children, we end up at Greengate to witness a huge water fight. But all in all, a good effort by Wild Rumpus to create an inner city treasure hunt.
On our way around I had a quick look around the rest of Dig the City which was encompassing the whole of the city centre and enjoy a bit of groovy big band music.
I then run over to festival square to watch some experimental jazz noise band, Craig Scott’s Lobotomy. Glitchy sounds paired with bonkers sax solos and intricate percussion from Sam Bell boomed throughout the festival tent. Proper groovy and well received from an open minded audience. Scott’s overall sound is like ten different songs playing at once, and buffering at different times, but I like it, and I get sucked in to the madness. Manchester Jazz Festival has exposed me to some new and interesting sounds and I look forward to hearing some more jazz in the future.
Friday is a quieter day spent walking around the oldest public library in the English-speaking world, built in 1653. I approach the security guard at Cheetham School of Music and I’m not sure whether we would be allowed to go on. He however directs us to the Library and tells us to ring the doorbell for access.
After we are greeted by a very happy librarian, we timidly walk up the stairs to reveal the most beautiful library, hidden in the middle of the city behind the cathedral. It is dark, and gothic and smells of old books. A few people are in the reading room, but we are mostly alone, free to stare, mouths open and curiously attempting to read the latin titles. It is an incredible site that every Mancunion should go visit and I will be returning for a tour to learn more.