Valletta’s Grand Harbour waterside has played host for nearly 20 uninterrupted years to the Malta International Jazz Festival that takes place each year over three nights in mid July. It’s made its name on the jazz circuit and is now a calendar highlight of the Malta’s Summer Arts Festival. The venue is right by the water at Ta’ Liesse, near the old wharfs and warehouses of the Knights of St John.
Here are seven reasons why we think Malta Jazz Festival is a unique event:
- Legacy. Think Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, Mike Stern, John Scofield, Diana Krall, Brecker Brothers, Michel Petrucciani, Al di Meola, Tuck & Patti, Herbie Hancock, Joao Bosco, Yellowjackets, Michel Camilo, Wayne Shorter.
- Atmosphere. Hiram Bullock playing his guitar among the crowds. Chick Corea goes through the usual rigmarole of tuning his piano on-stage. Then shakes his head and says ‘I’ve never played in a postcard before.’
- Location. It’s the mix of Ta’ Liesse in Valletta, the bastions on one side and the flood-lit fortifications of the three cities across the water. Boats moored close to the stage. It can only be the Med. It can only be Malta.
- Launch-pad. Diana Krall bemused by the fireworks going off in Senglea, stops playing and says ‘I always wanted a percussion section.’
- Social. You go for the music. But you also go to meet old friends and make new ones. Nothing like an ice-cold beer, jazz and a canopy of stars.
- Informal. This is the place where the famous enjoy a drink with the locals after they’ve been on stage. Artists have been known to go and play in some bar till the witching hour.
- Value for money. You get three concert nights for a price that's a snip! And international jazz scene in a postcard setting for the price.