Malta Jazz Festival 2016 releases calendar of events

Taking place over July 19-23, this year’s edition of the Malta Jazz Festival will feature free concerts in venues apart from the festival’s traditional stage at Ta’ Liesse 

Snarky Puppy: one of the most sought-after bands in the jazz world
Snarky Puppy: one of the most sought-after bands in the jazz world

The Malta Jazz Festival is back with a new format under the artistic direction of Sandro Zerafa for its 26th edition, taking place over July 21-23.

The event of Thursday night have been shifted from the traditional venue at Ta’ Liesse to Valletta centre, with free concerts featuring headliners. The festival also strives to reach out to wider and younger audiences.

The programme for this summer is highly eclectic and will feature a diversity of styles.

“The jazz world is constantly evolving. And so is the Malta Jazz Festival. With one foot in the past and another one in the future, we keep adjusting to contemporary trends while respecting tradition,” said artistic director Sandro Zerafa. 

The festival, like previous years, will include some of the most significant bands and musicians in the music sector such as Mike Stern/ Bill Evans band, Snarky Puppy and Omer Avital.

World famous Mike Stern and Bill Evans, both Grammy award nominees and former members of the Miles Davis’ band in the 80s, will close off the Friday programme with their band. The duo will be accompanied by legendary drummer Dennis Chambers and Darryl Jones, who has been the Rolling Stones’ bassist since Bill Wyman’s departure.

Twice Grammy award winner Snarky Puppy, who are currently one of the most sought-after bands in the jazz world, is a collective of nearly 40 musicians, with a line-up which is often in flux and collaborates with a variety of artists. By this summer they will have released 11 albums. The band will close off Saturday’s programme.


Saturday’s programme will also feature Israeli-American Omer Avital who plays the double bass and the oud but is also a composer and bandleader. Reviewers have compared him to Charles Mingus and described him as ‘roaringly inventive’ and ‘a pioneer in combining jazz with a myriad world music elements’.

Pianist Marcus Roberts, is perhaps best known for the development of a new approach to jazz trio performance. He will be performing on Friday night.

Dominic Galea will perform alongside late jazz legend Stan Tracey’s son – Clark Tracey, a friend since the 1970’s, with whom he recorded an album last March in London. They will open Saturday’s programme.

The line-up for the Thursday concerts includes world-known Cuban pianist Harold López-Nussa, who has gained international attention since 2005, when he won top honours at the Montreux Jazz Piano Competition at the age of 22. Preceding López-Nussa, there will be the Oliver Degabriele Trio featuring Damien Fleau, who will open the night at City Gate Entrance, and The South Sound Experience featuring Joe Debono, who will play in front of the Law Courts at 21:00. Both events are free of charge.

Zerafa explained that he has seen an increase in the following of jazz music not only amongst the audiences but also in attracting young musicians to the genre. With the Jazz on the Fringe activities, mainly the Youth Jazz Ensemble and masterclasses offered to anyone interested in the music, a platform has been created, offering new lifetime opportunities. Young talented musicians now have the opportunity to share the stage with Grammy award winning artists, which is also encouraging them to continue studying abroad.

Jazz on the Fringe

The Mid-day Concerts happening during July 19-23 will be introduced in this summer’s Fringe and will also be free of charge.

Masterclasses will be offered again by some of the festival’s participants to all interested musicians. This year they will be held by Marcello Pellitteri (drums; Berklee College of Music, Boston), Roberto Occhipinti (bass; Humber College, Toronto), Vincent Jacqz (improvisation, EDIM, France), Stjepko Gut (trumpet/improvisation) and Rino Cirinnà (sax).

Jacqz, head of the jazz department at the EDIM, will coach and direct the Fringe Youth Jazz Ensemble. The medium-sized jazz ensemble will feature the best of young talent from Malta and France, and will work on a repertoire which will be presented for the first time at the festival during Friday’s opening and at a later date in Paris.

The second edition of the Fringe Youth Jazz Ensemble was originally conceived by Zerafa and is performing in collaboration with the renowned EDIM music school in Paris. It is supported by Valletta 2018.

Thursday July 21

CityGate Entrance, Valletta at 20:00

Oliver Degabriele Trio feat. Damien Fleau

Opposite Law Courts, Valletta at 21:00

South Sound Experience feat. Joe Debono

Harold López-Nussa

Friday July 22

Ta’ Liesse, Valletta at 20:00

The Fringe Youth Jazz Ensemble

Marcus Roberts Trio

Mike Stern/ Bill Evans band feat. Dennis Chambers & Darryl Jones

Saturday July 23

Ta’ Liesse, Valletta at 20:00

Dominic Galea – The UK Connection

Omer Avital

Snarky Puppy

Ticket Prices

€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)

Early bird tickets available from April 15 – May 15

€25 instead of €30 for a single day ticket – seated (VIP)

€40 instead of €50 for a 2 day block ticket – seated (VIP)

€30 instead of €35 for a 2 day block ticket – standing (free seating will be available)

Tickets can be bought from Visit for more information

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