Manchester Jazz Festival Street Piano Competition


In May, the Manchester Jazz Festival partnered with Forsyth's music store to put 13 pianos in public places around the city centre. Sites included two train stations, several shopping malls, and a covered pedestrian walkway. They ran a competition for short videos of people playing them.

Here's the festival's compilation of the other prize-winning videos.

I'm currently working on an EP of piano songs, to be released in November. "Purple Piano" is the title track, inspired by a public piano in the Oxford Road train station some years back. (It was actually on Platform 4 and I don't remember what color it was, but sometimes the sounds of the words are more important than the actual details.)

When I found out about the MJF Piano Trail, I went to scout, thinking I might get photos or video I could use to promote the EP. As I wandered from piano to piano, I realised that if I abridged "Purple Piano" a little, it would run just under 2 minutes - so I shot video in Victoria Station to submit to the contest.

After I finished this take, I found out that my most attentive listener was waiting to play the piano. "Do you know "Heart and Soul"?" he asked me. So we played "Heart and Soul" together. Later, while I was packing up to go, another man sat down and started playing Tina Turner songs in her memory. The whole thing was a beautiful illustration of what happens when you put a piano in a train station.

Many thanks to the Manchester Jazz Festival, Forsyth's Music, and Yamaha. I am now the recipient of a new Yamaha electric keyboard and I'm enjoying it immensely.