The Malta International Jazz Festival takes place annually in July over three nights at Ta‘ Liesse down by the Valletta quay inside the Grand Harbour. A line-up of top international and Maltese artistes present an eclectic mix of jazz styles from the contemporary musical scene. In the past, world famous artistes such as John Scofield (pic), Al Di Meola, Chick Corea, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Cubanismo, Michel Petrucciani, Betty Carter, and Joe Zawinul, Richard Bona and Esperanza Spalding amongst others, have performed to large crowds under a summer star-lit sky during this festival. The beauty of Valletta's Grand Harbour by night is truly magical and tremendously evocative.
The line-up for the 21st edition of the Malta Jazz Festival is probably the most eclectic to date. The Festival opens with Benin guitarist Lionel Loueke, a Blue Note recording artist and a frequent collaborator of Herbie Hancock. His particular blend of jazz and African elements will be followed by one of the highlights of this year's Festival, Monty Alexander and the Harlem-Kingston Express. In a career spanning five decades, Monty has built a reputation exploring and bridging the worlds of American jazz and reggae, the music of his native Jamaica.
Contemporary cutting-edge New York jazz has always been a highlight at Ta' Liesse, and this year it’s the rising star Ambrose Akinmusire, another Blue Note recording artist and a winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. He will feature on Friday 15th, in a double-bill with the charismatic Brazilian legend Joao Bosco, a must for lovers of samba, bossa-nova and MPB.
Another familiar name on the New York scene featuring this year at the Malta Jazz Festival is sax player Seamus Blake, yet another laureate of the Thelonious Monk competition, who will be presenting his new electro/groove project featuring drummer Jorge Rossy.
The Festival will close with virtuoso bass-player/vocalist Avishai Cohen, whose blend of jazz, Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern influences has made him a prominent figure in world of jazz today.
Local talent will be represented by vocalist Nadine Axisa, the Argotti Jazz Ensemble (with musical direction by renowned musician Dominic Galea) and the quintet of guitarist Marc Galea (featuring saxophone player Robin Nicaise). The Festival is organised by the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts under the artistic direction of jazz musician Sandro Zerafa.