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Image © Band on the Wall via Facebook

Discover Jazz in Manchester

2 July 2019 | Daniel Lovatt

Jazz as a genre and a way of life has not just survived but thrived for over a century since it’s supposed genesis in 1895. As we move untethered into the digital age, with more music subgenres than ever before, the music world is as competitive as the race to grab a 60-inch plasma on Black Friday sales. But rather than vanish into obscurity of middle-aged eccentrics in straw hats sipping whiskey, the jazz circuit has risen to its hind legs and raised its smooth antennas to its enemies.

The city of Manchester is a testament to this, perhaps not the place that immediately springs to mind in a jazz conversation, but despite that there are now countless places that house both solo and group performances.  After shrugging off its ‘specialist subject’ stigma, Jazz offers out it’s unusually frantic hands to everybody and anybody. So, polish your pointiest shoes and pick out something colourful, here are five great places to catch live jazz in Manchester. 


Image credit: Matt and Phreds via Facebook 
Matt and Phreds
64 Tib Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 1LW 

Since its birth in 1998, Matt and Phreds has consistently delivered on bringing international jazz acts to a local crowd. It is, officially, the only venue in the north west dedicated to live jazz primarily, but it happens to dabble in a little funk and soul too.  It hosts a whopping six live shows per week! Also seeing the likes of Wynston Marsalis, Lonnie Liston Smith and Jamie Cullum blow crowds away on their stage. But as well as hosting the stars, Matt and Phreds delegates equal attention to giving a platform to rising talent on the circuit. Monday is open mic night, midweek until Friday is filled by trio & quartet nights and the weekend provides the city slot to the touring superstars from across the globe. If jazz is what you crave, this really is the place to be. Excellent acoustics, a great vibe and even greater cocktail deals. 

Pier Eight 
The Lowry, Salford, M50 3AZ

Whilst advertising itself on the surface as a ‘upscale restaurant serving contemporary British Cuisine’, Pier Eight also happens to host one of the most exciting Jazz nights around. If you like gin that is. Every month, the venue combines those two godly entities (with a different range of gin cocktails each time, just saying!) to give you the best that Manchester has to offer. Other than hearing some vivacious representatives talk about their company whilst getting you tipsy, the legendary Manchester-based Rob King provides the live jazz, with some darn beautiful vocal work. Needless to say, if you don’t like gin, then there’s still plenty of reasons to check this little gem out for yourselves. 


Image credit: The Fitzgerald via Facebook​​​​​​​
The Fitzgerald 
11 Stevenson Square, Manchester, M1 1DB

Third on the list, is a Great Gatsby speakeasy themed cocktail bar.  The Fitzgerald lives up to its tumultuous twenties reputation by hosting a wide range of jazz and blues performers who rip riot into the early hours every Thursday night. The talent is usually kept to a local pool and at the monthly Jazz Jam, there are open mic opportunities for any bidding performers wanting to demonstrate their skills. Whether it’s to try your hand or swing to some dazzling acts with a signature cocktail in hand, The Fitzgerald is a sublime hideaway and nostalgic nod back to the time of pencil moustaches and dapper three-piece-suits. 

The Hilary Step 
199 Upper Chorlton Rd, Manchester, M16 0BH

This iconic Chorlton boozer is a new favourite of locals in an age of rampant hipster mentality. A microbrewery that has plenty of its own ales on tap and trusty snacks, The Hilary Stepde dicates every Wednesday and Sunday from 8:30pm onwards to bringing the best of the North West Jazz scene to the mother city. But, as well as it’s competitor in slot one, also rakes in touring artists from across the world. Whilst diving beard-first into a cask pint, fans can enjoy both insightful performances mapping the history of jazz, booming double bass, swingin’ quartets and some pretty swanky piano work. 


Image credit: Band on the Wall​​​​​​​ via Facebook 
Band on the Wall 
25 Swan Street, Manchester, M4 5JZ

Perhaps not the most notorious for Jazz, music hub Band on the Wall may not be able to dedicate one day of every week to saxophones and corduroy trousers, but it makes up for it by hosting the annual jazz festival (with other venues across the city) as well as regular gigs that also luckily for us, are often free. Whilst amid the chaos, it would be easy to see jazz slip through the cracks, the team at BOTW have raked in the likes of Saxophone-drum duo Binker & Moses, drumming superstar Richard Spaven and Minnesota outfit Davina and the Vagabonds. Not bad. For all who have attended any performance at the venue know, BOTW nurtures an incredible sound that brass brilliance and percussion perfection exemplify. Not to be missed. 
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