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14th Edition of the Malta Jazz Festival 27/05/2004

The Malta Jazz Festival now in its fourteenth year and organised by the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts runs from the 16 to 18 July 2004 at Ta’ Liesse in Valletta. 

Sponsored by Vodafone Malta Limited and Cisk Export Premium Lager and supported by Le Meridien Phoenicia and the American Center, the festival offers its patrons an increasing number of international jazz artistes.  The focus of the three nights is on Latin jazz and a mix of Afro-Cuban and the traditional American jazz.

Addressing the press briefing held today (26th May) at Le Meridien Phoenicia, the Minister for Tourism and Culture, Hon Francis Zammit Dimech, said: “It is my pleasure to launch the 14th edition of the Malta Jazz Festival both as Minister for Tourism and for Culture.

“This Festival with its historical setting has become one of the salient cultural points during the Maltese summer as it shows that apart from sun and sea, Malta has much more to offer in terms of historical, artistic and cultural experiences for the tourist. The Malta Jazz Festival is also an exemplary public-private partnership in the cultural field. Both Government and the private sector have an interest to increase in-bound tourism,” said Minister Zammit Dimech.

The Minister thanked the festival sponsors for their financial support without which, he said, this festival would not be possible, the artistic director and all those who contribute their efforts so that this Festival is a success, year after year.

Vodafone PR & Events Senior Executive, Ms Deborah Grech, said: “Vodafone is proud to be associated with the Malta Jazz Festival, which offers year after year a spectacular line up of stars. Vodafone is supporting this esteemed cultural event for the fourth consecutive year.”

Farsons Marketing Manager, Pierre Stafrace said: “Farsons has been supporting the Malta Jazz Festival since 1991 and we have seen it grow considerably in the past years.  The festival has now earned a significant reputation among thousands of music lovers. We are pleased to associate our premium brand, Cisk Export, with such an event, which once again promises to be one of the best entertaining musical activities this summer.”

The line-up for this year’s Festival was announced by artistic director Charles Gatt. He said: “The Malta Jazz Festival sees the debut of Malta’s young stars, the Johann Strauss Big Band who will have their chance to shine under the direction of Paul Abela on Friday 16th.

Geri Allen, one of the most celebrated jazz pianist, and who will be accompanied by the ‘Timeline’ Electric Group will also feature on the first night followed by the return of the Brazilian Joao Bosco e Grupo. Also returning since their last appearance in 2000 in Malta, the renowned jazz band Yellow Jackets comprising of keyboardist Russell Ferrante, bassist Jimmy Haslip, tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer and drummer Marcus Baylor.

On Saturday 17th, the programme kicks off with the duo Monica Salmaso and guitarist Paolo Bellinati followed by Dave Douglas, composer and trumpeter, and his Electric Band “Freak In” with DJ Olive, while award winners Randy Brecker and Bill Evans, who have formed their new group, The Souldbop Band, headlines the Saturday night show.

On Sunday 18th, the jazz night opens with the participation of the dynamic singer Deborah Carter along with her Latin jazz trio. The guitarist John Scofield with Steve Swallow on bass and Bill Stewart on drums, and as a Trio all three are aglow with camaraderie and spontaneous invention. Toby Foyeh and Orchestra Africa will round off this year’s festival with a contemporary fusion inspired by traditional folk music of the Nigeria’s Yorubaland. 

Over the years, the Malta Jazz Festival has featured a line up of jazz legends such as the late Petruciani, Joe Zawinul, Charlie Haden, Al di Meola, Scott Henderson, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Diana Krall, Wayne Shorter and many other jazz greats. 

One of the most important aspects of this year’s festival is the variety of different bands and styles of jazz.  Mr Gatt said: “Exploring different rhythms, emotions and continents has always been our aim to pull the right crowd - both the jazz and music lovers as well as those who will be coming for the first time. With audience numbers steadily increasing the festival has consistently received strong support from the national media. The Malta Jazz Festival is now widely considered to be a major event in Malta’s cultural scene.”

The Malta Jazz Festival begins at 8pm every evening.  Tickets are available from the organisers, Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, Casa Gaspe, 230 Republic Street, Valletta, Tel. 21 245 168 and from the venue prior to performances.  Prices have been kept at last year’s level that is Lm7 for one performance or a weekend ticket (three evenings) for Lm15. 

Further information can be obtained on the website: www.maltajazzfest.com.