Well it didn’t take long.

Just two songs into the opening of Manchester Jazz Festival 2014, Bugalu Foundation had brought the crowd to their feet and people were dancing in the aisles. And for good reason as Bugalu Foundation got the festival off to a blistering start.

Bugalu Foundation performed the opening with a free concert, highlighting the quality of free gigs available at this year’s festival.

Bugalu Foundation are a nine-piece group, put together by conga player Sam Bell, and each member plays a pivotal part. At various points during the two set performance, each performer / instrument was highlighted, including an outstanding trumpet performance in Manzuela.

Fronted by Martin Connor on lead vocals Bugalu Foundation put on an excellent performance, from start to finish.  Although regarded as Afro-Latin Jazz, enjoying a strong Barrio feel, they performed an eclectic setlist which highlighted the various wider influences on their music, from the 70s psych feel of Funkadelico to the strong funk jazz of Cosmic Coalition (a track which highlighted the vocal ability of Martin Connor, as well as featuring strong brass) and the salsa feel of Manzuela.  They also showed good changes of pace with the outstanding slower track Idle Hands.

The show was also filled with humour from the larger than life Martin Connor and the performance even included something which we are quite sure we will never see in a performance again – a ‘tambourine-off’ between Connor and trumpet player Steve Parry!

The gig was certainly a crowd pleaser and by the end of the second set almost all seats had been abandoned in favour of finding a space to dance, encouraged by Connor (not much encouragement was needed at all).  As the show closed out, the crowd demanded an encore and Bugalu Foundation obliged to the audience’s delight.

The bar has been set very high already in the Manchester Jazz Festival.