The early bird tickets for the Malta Jazz Festival are now on sale, Festivals Malta has announced. This year’s edition, which runs from 16 to 21 July will be a special one, with iconic performers as well as an attractive world jazz element, seeing as Valletta is European Capital of Culture (ECoC). Following from last year’s success, the festival will also feature free lunchtime concerts as well as masterclasses.

The festival, which runs from 16 to 21 July, boasts three of the biggest names in jazz today, namely Chick Corea, Christian McBride and Karim Ziad. Held over six days in various venues across Valletta’s historical setting, the festival promises to be one of the highlights of the summer festivals, presenting an eclectic range of styles which make up the contemporary jazz scene.

The festival will open with three free events on 16 July: a concert featuring Vinny Vella on piano, singer Andreana Debattista, Anthony Saliba on bass and Joe Micallef on drums will usher in the 2018 edition of the festival, just outside the Parliament Building. The festival will be officially launched at the Phoenicia Hotel, Floriana, the festival’s main partner, at 8:30 p.m. on the same day with a concert by the Stjepko Gut quintet and Jazz Island, a photographic exhibition by Joe Smith, the latter which will be open till 21 July.

The all-embracing line-up of the festival stretches further boundaries this year with Karim Ziad, who will bring his unique blend of jazz, gnaoua and other North African rhythms to Malta. The Brazilian legend Joâo Bosco, which The New York Times described as “one of Brazil’s most fabled guitarists, singers and composers” will be back in Malta to close this year’s special edition of the festival.
Speaking about the festival, artistic director Sandro Zerafa said: “The Malta Jazz Festival has become an institution. During these few days the most beautiful sounds on earth converge in a celebration of one of the most important, yet misunderstood art forms of the past century. Jazz is constantly reinventing itself, jazz is tradition, jazz is young and old, jazz is full of contradictions, but jazz is not dead. Every July we are delighted to stage this event, honouring this eminently humane art form.”

Zerafa proudly highlighted some of the special ECoC features: “In Malta, jazz is synonymous with Valletta, and I am privileged to orchestrate a special line-up for the 2018 ECoC title. It will be one of this year’s highlights and Chick Corea’s presence is particularly significant as it reminds us of when it all started, back in Ta’ Liesse in 1991, when the foundations of Malta’s oldest running festival were laid.”

Festivals Director Annabelle Stivala underlined the uniqueness of the festival: “The Malta Jazz Festival is the only event of its calibre that promotes and celebrates jazz locally. The week-long event features international performers and virtuosos in a unique setting. On-stage collaborations, masterclasses and workshops are some of the attractions to expect.”

The acts on Friday, 20 July will feature Christian McBride’s New Jawn, a killer tight and soulful unit. Powered by a relentless energy and a boundless love of swing, five-time Grammy winner Christian McBride’s path has seen a continuous positive arc since his arrival on the scene. With a career now blazing into its third decade, the Philadelphia native has become one of the most requested, most recorded, and most respected figures in the music world today. Also performing on the same day is the newly formed BOKANTÉ ensemble. Meaning ‘ensemble’ in Creole, BOKANTÉ is Snarky Puppy founder and GroundUP Music creator Michael League’s experiment. Eight musicians from four continents come together to create a diverse ensemble rich in groove, melody, and soul.

The American jazz, and jazz fusion pianist, keyboardist and composer Chick Corea will be reunited with longtime brothers-in-music John Patitucci and Dave Weckl as the Chick Corea Trio on Saturday, 21 July. Expect Chick’s signature boundless energy on piano and brilliant songwriting, John’s unparalleled mastery on the bass, and Dave’s unmistakable brilliance on drums.

The Malta Jazz Festival is grateful to its main partner, The Phoenicia Hotel. It is organised by Festivals Malta within the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government, with the support of Valletta 2018, the Malta Tourism Authority, Mapfre MSV Life, Farsons and Offbeat Music Bar.

Early bird tickets

The early bird ticket prices for the events at Ta’ Liesse on 20 and 21 July are as follows: one-day ticket €15 (standard price €20); one-day gold ticket €25 (standard price: €30); Block early-bird tickets covering both 20 and 21 July are as follows: €30 (standard price: €35); gold tickets: €40 (standard price: €50). Concession tickets are as follows: Student and over 60 tickets are always €15 per day; and €30 for a block ticket (two days). Children under 12 always enter for free. All other events are free.


Full programme
Monday 16 July

12:30, Outside Parliament Building

Vinny Vella – piano; Andreana Debattista – vocals; Anthony Saliba – bass; Joe Micallef – drums
20:30, Phoenicia Hotel, Floriana

Malta Jazz Festival launch feat. Stjepko Gut quintet feat. Hugo Lippi, Olivier Zanot, Philippe Aerts, Philippe Soirat

Photographic exhibition launch: Jazz Island by Joe Smith, runs till 21 July
Tuesday 17 July

12:30, Outside Parliament Building, Free

Mariele Zammit ‘The Lieder Project’ – Mariele Zammit – vocals; Joe Debono – piano; Joseph Camilleri – drums

20:30, Palazzo de la Salle, Valletta, Free
A Tribute to Clark Terry – Stjepko Gut quintet feat. Hugo Lippi, Olivier Zanot, Philippe Aerts, Philippe Soirat


Wednesday 18 July

12:30, Outside Parliament Building

Anthony Camilleri Trio
21:00, Offbeat Music Bar, Valletta, Free

The annual Malta Jazz festival jam session feat. Stjepko Gut, Hugo Lippi, Olivier Zanot, Philippe Aerts and Philippe Soirat
21:00, The Storeroom, Ta’ Xbiex, Free
The Ranch


Thursday 19 July

12:30, Outside Parliament Building

Warren Galea Trio 

20:00, Valletta Centre, Free (MAIN EVENTS)
Yotam Silberstein Quartet (City Gate)
A Tribute to Count Basie – The MCO Big Band plays Kansas City Suite
(Pjazza Teatru Rjal)
Karim Ziad ‘Ifrikya’ (in front of Law Courts)
Friday 20 July

12:30, Outside Parliament Building

Jes Psaila Project 

20:00, Ta’ Liesse (MAIN EVENTS)
The Blue Tangerine
Christian McBride’s New Jawn

Saturday 21 July

12:30, Outside Parliament Building

The Malta School of Music Jazz Ensemble
20:00, Ta’ Liesse (MAIN EVENTS)
Chick Corea Trio
João Bosco


The Malta Jazz Festival presents its annual masterclass series featuring some great musicians from the international jazz scene. Participation is free but the number of participants is limited. Priority will be given to practising musicians. The sessions are one and a half hours long. Please send an e-mail to [email protected] indicating masterclass, level and phone number. Applications are open on 14 May. Applications before this date won’t be considered. The masterclasses will be held at the Offbeat Music Bar at 106 Merchant’s Street, Valletta.

Monday 16 July, 5 p.m.

Hugo Lippi – guitar  

Tuesday 17 July, 5 p.m.

Philippe Soirat – drums, Philippe Aerts – bass

Wednesday 18 July, 5 p.m.

Yotam Silberstein – guitar  

 Thursday 19 July, 5 p.m.

Olivier Zanot – saxophone  

Friday 20 July, 5 p.m.

Stjepko Gut – trumpet

Saturday 21 July, 11 a.m.

Vincent Jacqz – ear training


For more information, visit