My former work mate and good friend, Andy and I both had the same day off. As we hadn’t seen each other in a few weeks, we went to the Manchester Jazz Festival yesterday to have a catch up and to listen to some good music. It’s a ten day packed festival. I’m not so into my jazz that I know all the different acts that turn up but, over the years I’ve been going, I’ve never been disappointed and often been pleasantly surprised. Andy has a slightly different story to tell. Maybe I’m just lucky. I certainly was yesterday.
I had to drop some papers off at the University then we drove over to Chorlton to park the car and catch the tram into the city. So much more civilised than trying to drive into the city these days and finding reasonably priced parking.
Beer and jazz got together well but midday was a little too early to start so, having got tickets for some of the day’s offerings, we went to get some coffee. Well coffee for me, Andy prefers a nice cup of tea. The coffee and tea came courtesy of one of those mobile coffee vans like the Prosecco one I’d found on New Cathedral Street on Saturday. It’s called Azulito which I think means ‘Little Blue’ in Italian. These little vans are so cool and the coffee was delicious. And Andy thought the tea was good as well, so many coffee shops can’t do a decent cup of tea. Azulito was providing patrons of the jazz festival in Albert Square with coffee and cake.
The first concert we went to was free. It was a group called The Alexandra Ridout Quintet. Alexandra is only 17 and is the BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year, 2016. The four guys in her band couldn’t have been much older themselves. She plays the trumpet and did it brilliantly. A well deserved winner of the BBC award I thought. In spite of their youth, the Quintet were the closest to what people think jazz is. They start a tune and each of the band took time to extemporise on the tune. And there was that jazz thing where people applaud each musician as they finish their part, not waiting till the end of the piece as you would in almost any other kind of music.
A video from the band on YouTube….
We then had ten minutes for a swift walk down to St. Ann’s Church for the second performance of the day, The Paul Towndrow & Steve Hamilton Duo. These two guys came down from Scotland to play at the festival. Paul played the saxophone while Steve played piano. The music was beautiful and ethereal and fitted well in the beautiful surroundings of the church.
An example of their music from YouTube…
This chap seems to be in charge of the festival. Well he does all the introductions of the different acts that I’ve seen over the years. Here he is in St Ann’s Church…
And back in the Albert Square pavilion introducing the last act we saw yesterday…
The last act we saw was called Skutch Manos. It was a revelation of a concert. There was jazz but there were elements of rock, folk and flamenco as well. Three musicians; a guitarist, a percussionist and a guy with a double bass, they filled the tent with sound and wit. It was sensational. I’m pleased to see that they are local and do a lot of gigs across the city and surrounding areas so I will be able to get to see these talented people again.
A video of Skutch Manos. But to be honest I haven’t been able to find a video that comes close to seeing these guys live…
We had a late lunch/early dinner. I’d wanted to go back to Wahahca again but Andy isn’t keen on hot, spicy food which surprised me. I think he’s had a bad chilli at some point which isn’t what Wahaca is about with its subtle flavours. We settled on Cabana, a Brazilian restaurant in the Corn Exchange. I’d not tried this one so it was another I can tick off my list of Manchester restaurants I need to try. And, being Brazilian, it’s kind of flavour of the month with the Rio Olympics about to start.
We started with cocktails. I had a Mango Caipirinha which they drink a lot of in Rio I’m told. It was good. Andy ordered a Red Tailed Parrot but didn’t notice it was 2 for 1, so he ended up with two! Had a sip…also delicious.
We ordered BBQ steak and chicken wrapped in bacon with French Fries, grilled corn on the cob and Rio beans.
For pudding Andy has these mini doughnuts stuffed with Nutella. They came with a hot chocolate dipping sauce. And I went with ice cream.
It was about 5 when we finished. Not a good time to try and drive out of the city. So we caught the tram back to Chorlton and spent an hour of so in ODDEST. A good day.