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Malta’s Most Anticipated Music Festival Is Back And The Line-Up Is Incredible

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Can you think of anything more perfect than sipping on wine/beer in Malta’s most beautiful city, whilst listening to world-class musicians play in succession for an entire evening? No, nor can we. 

So it’s quite lucky that every year we get the Malta Jazz Festival – where people can chill, drink, sway, and pretend like they know shit about jazz. And this year is possibly the one to top them all. Why? Because the acts included are super diverse. So diverse and eclectic that even jazz-noobs will feel welcome and amazing at this year’s festival.

Brace yourself for the 2017 Jazz Festival line-up.

Superstar artists

As usual, festival organisers have put together an incredible mix of international and local artists to entertain Malta’s audiences over three days. Here’s a glimpse of what to expect from your insane jazz binge.

1. Mark Guiliana (a.k.a David Bowie’s drummer on ‘Blackstar’)

An acclaimed drummer, composer, educator, producer and founder of an independent record label, Mark Guliana’s forward-thinking, conceptual approach to drumming has been featured in a bunch of epic musicians’ recordings and tours. These include Mehliana, Meshell Ndegeocello, Gretchen Parlato, Avishai Cohen, Matisyahu, Lionel Loueke, Now vs. Now, Dhafer Youssef; as well as his own groups – Beat Music and Heernt. He’s received the biggest thumbs up from all sorts of critics including Time Out and the New York Times – so the awesomeness is legit.

2. Antonio Sanchez (a.k.a the dude that won a Grammy for his music on Birdman)

Sanchez is a five-time Grammy winner – including his win for his original score for the critical hit movie, Birdman. He’s also had Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations, has won a Critics Choice and Satellite Award, amongst many other mega-impressive accolades. Need we say more? 

3. Al di Meola (a.k.a guitar legend)

This guy is a bona fide guitar hero – recognised internationally over the past four decades as a total virtuoso. Di Meola is a prolific composer and prodigious six-string talent, he has over 20 albums and has collaborated with stars like Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia, Jean-Luc Ponty and more. He is known for his blend of world music and jazz, exploring the rich influence of flamenco, tango, Middle Eastern, Brazilian and African music. This year at Ta’ Liesse he will perform music from The Beatles, and also Piazzolla.

4. Romain Pilon & Walter Smith III (a.k.a guitar boss and saxophone genius)

Romain Pilon is considered as one of Europe’s leading jazz guitarists. He grew up in France and started to play the guitar at the age of 10, and after eventually receiving his degree in Jazz Perfomance, Romain moved to New York where he lived for one year. There he played with insane musicians including Ferenc Nemeth, Lionel Loueke, Seamus Blake, Matt Brewer, Carlos Henriquez, Jerome Sabbath. His show will open the festival in Malta with a special guest appearance of one of the leading saxophone players of the moment – Walter Smith III.

5. Munir Hossn (a.k.a Brazilian music god)

Hossn is a producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist from Brazil. He’s collaborated, produced and shared projects with artists like Quincy Jones, The Global Gumbo All Stars feat. Alfredo Rodriguez, Joe Zawinul Syndicate, Didier Lockwood, Roberto Fonseca, Mayra Andrade, Hermeto Pascoal, Alex Acuña, Paco Sery, Jorge Pardo, and more. Hossn’s sound will definitely appeal to Brazilian music lovers and his concert will be a vibrant closing to Thursday’s free events in Valletta.

6. Nicholas Payton (a.k.a contemporary jazz king)

Payton’s original blend of hip-hop, spoken word, New Orleans styles and contemporary jazz will be one of the highlights of this year’s festival. His music includes influences of Bebop, Swing, the Great American Songbook, New Orleans second-line, Mardi Gras Indian, Instrumental Soul, Rhythm-and-Blues, Urban, Hip-Hop, and various Afro-descended dialects of Central America and the Caribbean. You know you’re going to be swaying your hips to this one. 

7. Nadine Axisa, Luke Briffa, Carlo Muscat (a.k.a local jazz strongholds)

Just in case you were worried about our very own homegrown stars not making an appearance this year – you needn’t have panicked. Song bird Nadine Axisa, drummer Luke Briffa, and saxophonist Carlo Muscat will each be performing, and all three of their acts will feature collaborations with international artists. So, yeah, it’s going to be epic. 


Here come the details…

Okay, now for everything you need to know about getting yourself to this three-day line-up of awesomeness.

Ticket prices and how to get them

This year you’re in for a treat – the Malta Jazz Festival prices have been reduced. #score

  • €30 for a single day ticket – seated (VIP)
  • €50 for a 2 day block ticket – seated (VIP)
  • €20 for single day ticket – standing (free seating will be available)
  • €35 for a 2 day block ticket – standing (free seating will be available)

Tickets can be bought from right here, and you can visit www.maltajazzfestival.org for more information.

Dates, show times etc.

Here’s a rundown of how the festival will unfold:

Thursday 20th July* – 8pm

City Gate, Valletta – Romain Pilon feat. Walter Smith III

Pjazzu Teatru Rjal, Valletta – Nadine Axisa feat. Rino Cirinnà & Stjepko Gut

In front of Law Courts, Valletta – Munir Hossn ‘Made in Nordeste’

*free events supported by Valletta2018

Friday 21st July – 8pm

Ta’ Liesse, Valletta – Joe Debono Trio, Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet, Nicholas Payton ‘Afro Caribbean Mixtape’

Saturday 22nd July – 8pm

Ta’ Liesse, Valletta – Carlo Muscat feat. Burak Bedikyan, Antonio Sanchez and ‘Migration’, Al di Meola ‘World Sinfonia’

Malta Jazz Festival

And if that wasn’t enough… there’s more

The festival will also feature ‘Jazz on the Fringe’, happening on the 18th July at Trabuxu, and 19th of July at Beer Kitchen and Offbeat Music Bar. And if you’re more of daytime person, they’ve got you covered with their ‘Valletta Midday Jazz Concerts’ that will run every single day from the 17th to the 22nd of July.

There really is something for everyone.

That’s everything you need to know about how to get yourself to this year’s Malta Jazz Festival. We’ll see you cool cats down there!

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