The programme of the 27th edition of the Malta Jazz Festival was launched during a press conference at City Gate Entrance in Valletta. It was addressed by the Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Dr Owen Bonnici, Festivals Director Ms Annabelle Stivala Attard, Jazz Festival Artistic Director Mr Sandro Zerafa and the Chair of the Valletta 2018 Foundation Mr Jason Micallef.

This year, the Festival will host a series of free concerts supported by Valletta 2018, which will be held around the city of Valletta. The lineup for Thursday’s free concerts consists of one of Europe’s star jazz guitarists, Romain Pilon and multi-instrumentalist Munir Hossn. Pilon will perform with special guest Walter Smith III, one of the current leading saxophone players. Hossn will appeal to lovers of Brazilian music thanks to his Brazilian Jazz Pop album ‘Made in Nordeste’, a contemporary approach to the music and rhythms from his native Brazilian Northeast region. His concert will close Thursday’s free events in Valletta with a bang.

The Valletta 2018 chairman said, “Valletta 2018 Foundation is again supporting the Malta Jazz Festival – one of a series of festivals organised by Arts Council Malta – which celebrates local and international musical talent in jazz. The festival focuses on the development of talent among other things, with a series of activities in the centre of Valletta, all contributing to the Valletta 2018 legacy.”

The Festivals Director added, “The Malta Jazz Festival is the only event of its calibre that promotes and celebrates jazz locally. The three-day event features international performers and virtuosos in a unique setting. On-stage collaborations, instrumental masterclasses and workshops are some of the attractions to expect. For three days, visitors will be treated to the sounds of exceptional world-renowned musicians, with free events for all in the city centre on the first day.”

This year’s festival is striving to make jazz as accessible as possible. During the conference, Artistic Director Sandro Zerafa said, “The Malta Jazz Festival is reaching out. It is spreading its wings beyond Ta’ Liesse. Besides boasting a star-studded lineup featuring the best in contemporary jazz, the Malta Jazz Festival is branching o ut to Valletta’s streets and injecting creative energy in Malta’s growing jazz scene, in preparation for Valletta 2018. The impressive list includes ranging from Nicholas Payton’s blend of dialects of Afro-descent to Munir Hossn’s homage to the Brazilian north-eastern heritage and Al di Meola’s latin-infused fusion.

“The festival strives in its mission to promote this great art form in all its diversity and to stimulate the local scene through various outreach initiatives – street jam sessions, collaborations with international musicians, masterclasses and free concerts.”

The festival, like previous years, will include some of the most renowned jazz artists such as Al di Meola, Antonio Sanchez and Mark Guiliana. Di Meola, who last performed in Malta in 2012 and will close off this year’s festival, was discovered by renowned jazz artist Chick Corea when he was 19 years old. This year at Ta’ Liesse, apart from his music, he will also perform music from The Beatles and Piazzolla.

Apart from being the drummer in Pat Metheny’s group, Sanchez is also well-known for the score he composed and performed for the film ‘Birdman’, for which he won a Grammy and was nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe.

Giuliana, the drummer in David Bowie’s last album ‘Blackstar’, will play at Ta’ Liesse on Friday with his jazz quartet. The New York Times recognised Guiliana as “a drummer around whom a cult of admiration has formed”.

Friday night will be closed off by Nicholas Payton, whose original blend of hip-hop, spoken word, New Orleans styles and contemporary jazz will be one of the highlights of this year’s festival. The Chicago Tribune reported that “no descriptive label or category could be affixed to Payton’s solos, which were as brashly original as they were technically imposing.”

The Artistic Director mentioned how the festival supports the local sce ne and encourages collaborations between Maltese and international artists. In fact, all three local acts feature international musicians. The Maltese lineups include vocalist Nadine Axisa, who will perform with Rino Cirinnà and Stjepko Gut; Carlo Muscat, who will appear alongside Burak Bedikyan and Joe Debono, who will be collaborating with Yoni Zelnik and Fred Pasqua.


Further details about the Jazz on the Fringe and the masterclasses will be announced later on. Tickets can be bought from Visit for more information.


The Malta Jazz Festival is organised by Festival Malta within Arts Council Malta in collaboration with Valletta 2018 and the Ministry of Justice, Culture and Local Government; and supported by Cyberpass, MSV Life, Phoenicia and MTA.



Thursday 20th July (free event supported by Valletta 2018)

City Gate Entrance, Valletta at 8pm

Romain Pilon feat. Walter Smith III

Pjazzu Teatru Rjal, Valletta

Nadine Axisa feat. Rino Cirinnà and Stjepko Gut

In front of Law Courts, Valletta

Munir Hossn ‘Made in Nordeste’


Friday 21st July

Ta’ Liesse, Valletta at 8pm

Joe Debono Trio

Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet

Nicholas Payton ‘Afro Caribbean Mixtape’


Saturday 22nd July

Ta’ Liesse, Valletta at 8pm

Carlo Muscat feat. Burak Bedikyan

Antonio Sanchez and ‘Migration’

Al di Meola ‘World Sinfonia’ – “Music of Di Meola, Piazzolla & Lennon-McCartney


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)