Malta Jazz Festival

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Say the word ‘jazz’ to someone and you’ll get one of two reactions – it’s either a dreamy eyed look as that person hears a Charley Parker saxophone solo in their mind, or they’ll pull a face as if someone has just served them a raw liver sandwich. There are no half measures – people love or loathe jazz!

So, if you blanch at the mere thought of listening to Miles Davis launching into a 10-minute run on his trumpet, then you might as well stop reading now. This is an article about a festival entirely dedicated to jazz!


Now all the non-believers have departed, we can tell the devotees about an annual three-day celebration of all that’s good about the jazz music world. It happens each July at the waterfront location of Ta’ Liesse, in Valletta.


Since it appeared in the scene in 1990, music legends who have played at the event include; Diana Krall, Mike Stern, Natalie Cole, John Schofield, Betty Carter, Herbie Hancock, Brad Mehldau, Chick Corea, Al Di Meola and Michel Petrucciani.


For a short period between 2006 and 2008, the event was taken from the hands of its original musical director and founder Charles ‘City’ Gatt and passed to private promotion company NnG. They controversially altered it to a Rock and Jazz Festival.


This went down like a bacon sandwich at a Jewish wedding and so, since 2009, the festival returned to its pure jazz roots. It came back with a bang - with a line-up of world-renowned jazz musicians, which included the Brad Mehldau Trio and the John Scofield Piety Street Band.


Order was restored and ever since, the festival has continued to thrive and stay true to its roots. For jazz purists this is not-to-be-missed but don’t take our word for it, check out the website and watch the many videos of previous festivals.


For those who have not yet been exposed to jazz then it’s worth giving it a go – the music offered at the festival is fairly easy on the ear and may tip you into the obsessive category. Then again you might need many beers to get through a session!


The stunning setting of the Grand Harbour is the perfect location and once prompted legendary pianist Chick Corea to exclaim: “Never played in a postcard before!”


There are numerous food and drink stalls dotting the venue to accompany the music, as well as stalls selling merchandise such as CDs, t-shirts and even paintings.


The Malta Jazz Festival is organised by the Malta Council for Culture and Arts and you can purchase tickets through the festival website.

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