Malta Jazz Festival returns in July

Eclectic programme promised for Malta Jazz Festival while new culture minister vows to listen more closely to artists

Mehliana (featuring Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana) are set to be one of the highlights of the Malta Jazz Festival
Mehliana (featuring Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana) are set to be one of the highlights of the Malta Jazz Festival

The perennially popular and enduring Malta Jazz Festival was announced during a press conference today, as representatives of the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, the Valletta 2018 Foundation and Fondazzjoni Ceremonji Nazzjonali heralded this year's edition of the international festival, set to take place between 17 and 19 July.

The conference was also attended by Malta Jazz Festival Artistic Director Sandro Zerafa and the new Minister for Culture Owen Bonnici.

MCCA Chairman Albert Marshall welcomed Owen Bonnici in his first public appearance as Culture Minister. 

"Unfortunately not many ministers take an active interest in culture, but Owen is one of them," Marshall said.

"After five years of shadowing this sector, it feels like I've finally come home," Bonnici said, adding that one particular concern he'd like to address is the importance of artists to society.

"In my conversations with artists, this kept cropping up as a concern. Artists felt that they weren't listened to, that there would be a seed of an idea that would never take root. And we want to ensure that this doesn't happen again - naturally, not at the price of quality," Bonnici added.

Marshall went on to highlight how the festival will take advantage of the fusion between various governmental entities, while taking place in light of the various national celebrations taking place this year.

Sandro Zerafa said that the festival will be an eclectic one, with a varied programme which will include both classically-inclined musicians and more cutting edge acts. Zerafa also emphasised that the festival will continue to support local talent and facilitate collaboration between Maltese acts and their international counterparts. 

Among the musicians are Mehliana (featuring Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana) – which is set to be one of the festival’s hottest tickets - mix jazz with electronica to create a trance-laden music while the French-born musician Laurent Coq combines Caribbean/Creole influences with modern jazz piano in his Laurent Coq Dialogue Trio.

Other rising stars include vibraphonist Warren Wolf and Kneebody, a band which crosses genres with ease. Local talent will be represented by Paul Abela Quintet featuring Gabriele Comeglio on Thursday 17 July, Joseph Camilleri Trio and Dominic Galea Trio on Friday 18 July and Francesca Galea, the winner of last year’s Jazz Contest, on Saturday 19 July.

"It's important that the local scene does not remain insular," Zerafa said, while adding that the Jazz Fringe will continue to provide a space for up and coming musicians, an initiative which will be bolstered by free-of-charge masterclasses.

Marshall said that V.18 chairman Jason Micallef has been greatly supportive of the Jazz Fringe initiative in particular.

"I was always secure in the knowledge that, should I need funds, Jason will stick his hand in his pocket and hand me some!" Marshall said.

Micallef said that the Jazz Fringe, incorporating up-and-coming musicians and taking place at various locations, has an important communal element which needs to be nurtured.

Speaking on behalf of FCN, Lou Bondi said that the foundation could only gain from an association with a prestigious event like the Malta Jazz Festival.

"The Festival is great precisely because it encourages us not to remain closed in on ourselves, but to collaborate with international artists," Bondi said.

Closing the conference, Marshall added that an agreement was reached with the Commissioner of Police for the Jazz Festival to carry on uninterrupted for longer hours.

Tickets for the Malta Jazz Festival 2014 cost €30 for a single-day ticket (seated) or €75 for a 3-day block ticket (seated). Standing single-day tickets are also available for €20 (free seating available) while a 3-day block ticket (standing) can be bought for €40 (free seating available). Those who book until the end of April can avail themselves of an early bird discount: €60 instead of €75 for a 3-day block ticket – seated; €25 instead of €30 for a single-day ticket – seated, €30 instead of €40 for a 3-day block ticket – standing (free seating available) and €15 instead of €20 for a single-day ticket – standing (free seating available).

The Malta Jazz Festival is brought to you by the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts. Supported by Fondazzjoni Ċelebrazzjonijiet Nazzjonali, the Malta Tourism Authority, MSV Life, Switch, Cyberpass, Phoenicia Hotel and the Valletta 2018 Foundation.

For full programme and line-ups visit