Today sees the launch of Manchester Jazz Festival 2014 – 10 days of jazz, 88 bands, more than 500 artists from across the UK and abroadand eight venues.  Today, jazz takes over Manchester.


Albert Square is set to become a throbbing hub of jazz as the Thwaites Festival Pavilion takes centre stage at the festival every day from 18th July until 27th July featuring gigs from lunchtime until late.  There will also be plenty to eat and drink, as well, with high quality restaurants and food outlets such as Chaophraya, V Fresh Food, Al’s BBQ Shack, Streatza Pizza and Wood’s Rustic Pizza supplying foodand the Thwaites Festival Bar quenching thirsts, whilst roaming bands provide entertainment at the weekend for the very first time.  And if afternoon tea is more your thing, the Midland Hotel will be hosting a number of gigs whilst serving everybody’s favourite early afternoon refreshments (booking necessary!).


The standard of artists who will be performing this year is exceptional, as we have come to expect from the ever excellent Manchester Jazz Festival.


Headlining at the Thwaites Festival Pavilion on the opening weekend are Arun Ghosh Sextet performing Indo-Jazz fusion as well as his new South Asian Suite (Saturday evening) and then the incredible Kristyna Myles (Sunday Evening – read our review of her album launch a few months ago to see why we and so many others rate her so highly!).


Sunday lunchtime sees youth being given an opportunity to shine with the Greater Manchester Jazz Orchestra performing a set at the Thwaites Festival Pavilion which features the BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year Alexander Bone.


International stars are also getting in on the act, including legends such as Booker T Jones performing at Band on the Wall (Monday 21st July) and The Bad Plus at the RNCM (Wednesday 23rd July).


But it’s not just about traditional jazz music.  MJF 2014 will also see some unusual gigs taking place.  On Wednesday 23rd July (9.00pm) Soup Kitchen will host Silence Blossoms (exploring the use of voice and poetry with improvised music, electronics and props) and Space F!ght, an audio-visual experience exploring 3D projection mapping and sound reacting in real time to jazz music.  Thursday 24th July will also see Tin Men and the Telephone (using every day sounds with theatrical and visual aspects to create a multi-media delight about modern communications which the audience are encouraged to contribute to) and Diego Amador Trio (Amador being a self-taught musician fusing flamenco with post-bop and avant-garde jazz) performing at the Royal Northern College of Music (8.00pm).


The final night in the Pavilion features a double bill – the critically acclaimed Hackney Colliery Band who closed the 2012 festival with a tremendous performance and awesome vintage songstress Charlie Cooper (see here for a review of her performing at Matt & Phreds).


Whilst the focus and centre point of the festival is Albert Square, there are also performances taking place over seven other of Manchester’s key venues– Band on the Wall, Central Library, Matt & Phred’s, Royal Northern College of Music, Soup Kitchen, St Ann’s Church and The MidlandHotel.


The festival features a high number of free gigs and tickets can be obtained from the Manchester Jazz Festival website. (Provide website link?)


There’s truly a festival feel to MJF, a sense of fun, a sense of enjoyment and a time for the city to truly embrace jazz.