Jazz is one of those genres that will never really go away. And now that we’re approaching the hundred year anniversary since the roaring 20s, there seems to have an even bigger revival of the sound, with various jazz-inspired artists and jazz-centric venues sprouting up around Malta. Here are seven of the best:
1. Bridge Bar
As will soon become pretty evident, most of Malta’s best jazz bars are situated in Valletta, and The Bridge Bar is one of Valletta’s oldest and finest locations for a bit of late night jazz.
One of South Street’s quirkier venues, Laparelli is a vintage wine bar that has recently opened its doors to various musicians and a host of genre-specific nights, from Spanish nights with percussionists, to Maltese folk, to voodoo blues…and of course, good old jazz.
3. Jazz Cave
This St. Julian’s haunt in Hotel Juliani might have started as a fine dining restaurant offering an elegant fusion of Mediterranean and local cuisine, but with live jazz going down each and every single night, it’s become a top jazz bar in its own right.
4. Cafe Society
Cafe Society is one of those places that doesn’t market itself primarily as a jazz bar, but because of its prime location in the heart of Valletta and its willingness to welcome musicians from all walks of life, it’s quickly become synonymous with the jazz community anyway. Cafe Society’s edge on other venues, however, is how easily it mixes things up, with a movie night under the stars on the stairs of the capital, or a funk and disco night with some of Malta’s best DJ’s spinning classic vinyl.
What could be more relaxing of a backdrop to jazz than the crashing off waves on the Sliema Promenade? Mason’s Bistro has realised that potential perfect pairing and have done whatever they can to integrate jazz into their schedule, making the most of both warm summer nights and cold winter evenings.
6. The Villa
Throughout the decades, jazz has been embraced by a lot of different scenes. No longer restricted to cramped underground haunts, the genre has seen proliferation amongst places like The Villa, where most of the Sunday live music happening on a weekly basis revolves around jazz-inspired artists.
If you want to have a great cocktail to wash down that jazz with, then Malta’s got you sorted. It wouldn’t make much sense to have a list of great venues for Malta without mentioning the first (and only) 1920’s prohibition style bar on the island. While The Thirsty Barber has hosted anything from rock to folk nights, jazz musicians should make sure to keep this venue on their radar.
8. Strait Street
Seeing as it was technically the original home to jazz when the genre was still the new sound on the block, Strait Street deserves its own place on the list. While there aren’t any live music venues yet in this former red-light district (strictly speaking), StrEat, Tico Tico and Loop Bar all do their very best to recreate the magic that this street once had, and the jazz vibes are still felt rather strongly on many a poetic evening.
Sadly, as is the situation all too often, the pioneers are the first to fade away. When live jazz in Malta saw a revival in the last couple of years thanks to the sprouting of a handful of artists dabbling with the sound, Django Jazz Bar in Valletta was one of the first place to welcome the scene with arms wide open.
Recently it’s had to close its doors. While it’s great to see the management team behind it hasn’t given up and is still organising live music (mostly jazz) nights at the nearby Laparelli’s, we’re hoping that Django itself reopens its doors soon.