MJF: Seance + Testament & Matthew Bourne at The Deaf Institute

MJF: Seance + Testament & Matthew Bourne
The Deaf Institute
16th May 2024

Get here sustainably

Find Out More »

Part of Manchester Jazz Festival

Seance + Testament & Matthew Bourne

Built around voicemail messages from lost loved ones, artists Verity Watts and Rosie Parsons will invite audiences to come together over shared experiences of loss and grief.

Many of us keep every day messages or voicemails from loved ones after they have passed, and this piece seeks to create a space where they can be heard and responded to through music and sound, to honour the significance of these messages, and place them in a new and uplifting context.

Using the idea of a séance, the performance draws on the different ways we maintain a connection with those who are no longer with us. Using turntables, electronics and newly commissioned vocal motifs and samples from Testament MC, creative producers Verity Watts and Rosie Parsons (aka Better Songs) will work together with improvising performers Lara Jones (saxophone) and Lucy Nolan (harp), to create a supportive, shared space through sound and music.

Better Songs

Better Songs is a Leeds-based audio collective formed by artists Rosie Parsons and Verity Watts. Working together to tell stories in new ways, they fall between the cracks of sound art, music, journalism and turntablism. Their mission is to “showcase the artistic power of sound, music and words, combining them in a way that connects an audience even more deeply to the content.”

Verity Watts

Verity uses music, sounds and words to tell stories in new and creative ways. She’s created and performed around the country working with Manchester Jazz Festival, Cheltenham Jazz Festival and Arts Council England. Her work includes “How to Build a Spaceship’, ‘The Story of Leeds Jazz’ and ’The Chronicles of Rothwell Temperance Band’. Verity is an alumna of the festival’s hothouse programme and the festival is excited to welcome her back to mjf.

Rosie Parsons

Rosie is an audio producer and artist based in Leeds. Her work has been featured on both local and national radio. Her audio journey began with making work for experimental radio arts festival Radiophrenia, and she now brings her creative approach to producing podcasts, audio documentaries and performances.

She’s interested in unearthing hidden histories, with projects taking the listener on journeys via narrowboats and buses, through lost botanical gardens and long demolished buildings. Recent audio work includes commissions for Leeds Museums and Galleries, Brighter Sounds Leeds Inspired, and now, The Manchester Jazz Festival

Testament & Matthew Bourne

Personnel and instrument(s) – Testament voice & beatboxing / Matthew Bourne keyboard

Opening this special event, acclaimed rapper, poet and world record-holding human beatboxer Testament collaborates with award-winning and groundbreaking pianist and composer Matthew Bourne, to explore music and story inspired by similar themes to Séance.

This is a collaboration that wordsmith Test and sonic visionary Matthew have been wanting to make happen for years and is sure to be an expansive and exciting project!

Testament’s projects range from his critically lauded Homecut: No Freedom Without Sacrifice (First Word Records) writing plays like Black Men Walking (Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester/Eclipse Theatre/Royal Court), composing a poetic and musical response to Greek Myth Orpheus in the Record Shop with the musicians of Opera North, and many spoken word performances on BBC Radio 4, BBC TV and Sky Arts. Testament has collaborated with Grammy winner Corinne Bailey Rae, Mercury nominee Soweto Kinch, US rap legend J-Live and jazz heavyweights Joe Lovano and Jason Rebello.

Matthew Bourne’s work includes bringing infirm pianos back to life in Songs From A Lost Piano, collaborating with classical musicians of the London Sinfonietta in Written/Unwritten, the acclaimed solo piano albums, Montauk Variations and Isotach, and reinterpretations of Amon Tobin’s work for Ninja Tune. Bourne’s work has appeared in compilations by Bonobo and Hot Chip and has featured in Paolo Sorentino’s 2018 film LORO. Bourne continues to develop his solo piano work (Désinances / Irrealis) and is currently working on several new projects – including new work with longtime collaborator Keeley Forsyth.

Séance was produced with the generous support of PRS Foundation and Granada Foundation

Also part of this season

MJF: Nikki Iles Jazz Orchestra
Royal Northern College of Music | 18 May 2024

Award-winning pianist and composer Nikki Iles takes her 20-piece Jazz Orchestra to RNCM as part of Manchester Jazz Festival.

Part of Manchester Jazz Festival

MJF: John Surman: Words Unspoken
Royal Northern College of Music | 25 May 2024

British composer, saxophonist and clarinettist John Surman will be 80 this year, celebrate with his latest release, Words Unspoken, live at MJF.

Part of Manchester Jazz Festival

Get the latest news from Oxford Road in your inbox