Manchester Jazz Festival: Best of the best


Brass Gumbo (1) David McLenachan webJPG

Brass Gumbo by David McLenachan.

Irwin Mitchell mjf originals commission 2017, awarded to Andy Stamatakis-Brown, brings Manchester’s ‘Cottonopolis’ past to life with a jazz, video and dance-music experience.

The award-winning manchester jazz festival (mjf) brings its exciting, eclectic mix of events to a variety of venues across Manchester city centre from 28 July – 6 August 2017.  Recognised for celebrating contemporary jazz through adventurous programming, each year the Irwin Mitchell mjf originals strand provides a talented regional artist with an exceptional opportunity to present new work.  This year’s commission has been awarded to pianist and composer, Andy Stamatakis-Brown, who has been a member of the Manchester jazz circuit for the past fifteen years. His innovative compositions have been performed across Europe, Australia and the USA. Currently, he leads the ‘Andy Stamatakis-Brown Trio’; plays in the hugely-popular, Manchester-based, ‘Gypsies of Bohemia’ (loved for their lively, gypsy-jazz treatments of contemporary tunes); composes and plays piano for the 10-piece ‘Manchester Jazz Collective’ and he also plays piano and synthesisers for ‘Hacienda Classical’.  His winning concept for mjf originals – entitled ‘Cottonopolis’ – will explore iconic aspects of Manchester’s colourful past; its role as the power-house of the industrial revolution, and as the happening heart-beat of the ‘Madchester’ dance music scene.

Dancing Audiences mjf 2017 by Majpics

Dancing Audiences mjf 2017 by Majpics.

On Thursday 3 August, 8 – 10 pm – in a surprise location in Manchester (only revealed to ticket holders the day before the gig) – Andy’s ‘Cottonopolis’ will combine a 12-piece ensemble of northwest jazz musicians with the sounds of a mechanical loom and live projections, to create an aural and visual link between some of the most important social and cultural influences on Manchester’s identity. By the mid-19th century, Manchester had been dubbed ‘Cottonopolis’ and the relentless, yet rhythmical sounds of mill machinery had become the soundtrack to many peoples’ working lives.  A hundred years later, the innovators of house and techno music sought to create music that echoed factory life in Detroit and Chicago. ‘Madchester’s’ infamous party scene became a focal point for this mesmerizingly intense music from the late 1980s through the 1990s.

Camilla George Q at mjf 2017 by David McLenachan

Camilla George Q at mjf 2017 by David McLenachan.

For Manchester Jazz Festival, Cottonopolis will bring the noise and clatter of a 19th century mill and the excitement and atmosphere of a contemporary club night to Manchester Jazz Festival. The ensemble, drawn mostly from the Manchester Jazz Collective, will showcase the variety of talented players on the Manchester scene. Andy Stamatakis-Brown said: “I am thrilled to have been awarded the Irwin Mitchell mjf originals 2017 commission. It gives me the opportunity to bring together so many creative people from different parts of my life to present this project. Manchester Jazz Festival gives us a high-profile platform to share the sort of thing we like doing – working together to produce an unusually interesting and exciting night out.”

This ground breaking new work features DJs from Space Cassette and archive and live video projections – developed by Blain Cousin and Ric Lowe from Norvun Devolution – providing an evocative backdrop to a truly immersive and unforgettable experience.

Manchester Jazz Festival’s Artistic Director, Steve Mead, said: “Cottonopolis looks set to become yet another milestone in a long line of ground-breaking new pieces that audiences can savour in this year’s festival programme. I’m especially excited about Andy’s idea to integrate a historical subject close to Manchester’s heart with creative artists from the city’s vibrant DJ and VJ cultures and – of course – a formidable line-up of musicians from the north’s inspirational jazz scene.”

For the fourth year, mjf originals is being sponsored by Irwin Mitchell.  The continuity of this support has enabled mjf to pioneer exciting, innovative new works by northern artists.  Roy Beckett, regional managing partner at Irwin Mitchell in Manchester, said: “Irwin Mitchell is once again delighted to be sponsoring the mjf originals series.  Manchester Jazz Festival continues to go from strength to strength and I think it is appropriate that this year’s Irwin Mitchell mjf originals commission, Cottonopolis, celebrates the city’s proud past.”

Northern Monkey Brass Band at mjf 2017 by David McLenachan

Northern Monkey Brass Band at mjf 2017 by David McLenachan.

Tickets and information for Cottonopolis and all other manchester jazz festival gigs are available at


Christchurch: Earthquake Art


I am in a destroyed city. Destroyed by 3 earthquakes in 2010, 2011 and 2016. There are lots of ruins, lots of wounds between houses. They are now filled with art and the brains of artists. The shops are not there anymore, but instead there are containers. Really fancy containers.


I feel almost in Utopia. The people decided to fight, for their lives, for their futures, for their well beings. I am in New Zealand, almost at the end of the world. In Christchurch. And I am too astonished to talk about this. It takes my breath away. I brought to you some pictures. Look at them and then you will understand what I mean. And I am in love with that city …


About Frida

P1090305 (Large)Recently I looked my photographs of Frida Kahlo’s paintings again. I took them during an exhibition a couple of years ago. I love her self-portraits and the way she used to see herself as two different people – the internal and the external Frida. And I admire how honest she was about both personalities. Her womanhood was timeless. She is one of my favourite artists.P1090306 (Large)

Lala, Painter, Udaipur

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I met Dhrur Sharma, nick name „Lala“ in Udaipur. His gallery is opposite the Hotel Pichola Haveli. He shows his paintings in miniature art. The 38 years old artist paints for the last 21 years. He got inspiration from his artist family. For one painting he needs about 9 days with daily 6 hours of work.IMG_4259 (Large)IMG_4258 (Large)IMG_4257 (Large)IMG_4261 (Large)