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The Music of Charles ‘City’ Gatt
A Tribute to the Godfather of Maltese Jazz, this project aims to preserve the jazz compositions written by Charles ‘City’ Gatt in his hay days while studying at Berklee in the USA in the early 1980s which were never recorded.

A Tribute to the Godfather of Maltese Jazz, this project aims to preserve the jazz compositions written by Charles ‘City’ Gatt in his hay days while studying at Berklee in the USA in the early 1980s which were never recorded.

The recording will serve as documentation of this great artist for posterity.

Gatt focuses on the rhythmic aspect and the concept of odd time signatures (5/4 and 7/8) in his compositions, which is rarely encountered in our tradition. The tunes will be played by the artist himself on drums and percussion accompanied by jazz pianist Dominic Galea

Biography

Born in Żebbiegħ, Gatt is popularly known as ‘City’. His interest in both music and painting started more or less at the same time.  He joined the Education Department in 1961 and pursued a training course at St Michael’s College of Education. He taught art from 1968 to 1975 when he joined the staff of the School of Music, teaching percussion. He served as principal of the same school (1995-2005).  Gatt furthered his studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA in 1978 and 1979. He formed part of Andy Jaffe’s ensemble, played in David Kikoski’s trio and Joe Mahkolm’s Big Band, and was also a regular percussionist with Boston’s Melrose Symphony Orchestra. He also recorded works for solo percussion by Charles Camilleri whose music he performed at UNESCO-sponsored North-South Encounter in the Netherlands, at London’s Royal Festival Hall and the Barbican Centre. Gatt toured several cities in North Italy playing vibraphone with the Jazz Fantasy Trio from Bergamo. In 2004 he played the Jazzmandu, the Kathmandu Jazz Festival in Nepal. In 2014 he was part of the Ortigia Jazz Festival on vibraphone with the Rino Cirinna Sextet.  He gave several master classes, workshops and performances at the Tollwood Festival in Munich and in other cities in Europe.

Gatt has accompanied artists like Albert Mangelsdorff, Bobby Shew, and the National Youth Orchestra from Britain in formal concerts and, in less formal situations, played with Steve Coleman, Joe Lovano, Trilok Gurtu, and Arto Tuncboyaciyan, among others. He played at the Bratislava Jazz Days in Czechoslovakia and at other festivals of contemporary music in Greece, Spain, North Africa, the USSR, and Australia. He has also composed music for jazz and percussion ensemble that have been used as dance routines in various musical situations. 

Charles Gatt is probably best known locally as Malta’s “father of jazz”, having spearheaded the Malta Jazz Festival in 1991, acting as its musical director for its first fifteen years (1991-2005).  As a member of the local Art Group ‘Start’ his installations were part of exhibitions at ‘Cityspaces’ in Valletta, ‘Malta at War

Museum’, Vittoriosa (2005), ‘Borders’ at Pinto Wharf (2004), curated by Raphael Vella Ph.D and ‘Escape’ at the Old Prisons, Citadel Gozo (2003) curated by Austin Camilleri. In 2013 he took part in ‘Re-Visit the Contemporary Face of Faith’ curated by Vince Briffa.

Gatt is a member of the European art group ‘Frequenzen’. Recent exhibitions and venues with this group include Borgo a Mozzano, Italy (2017, 2006) Vesprem, Hungary (2016) ‘Umshlagplatz Coburg’ Germany (2016), Neumarkt a.d. Raab Austria (2015, 2012, 2008), Higueras and Castellon in Spain (2014), Le Rocher

d’Ongles, France (2013) Rosenheim, Germany (2009) Ascoli Piceno, Italy (2004, 2009), Triumphforte, Inssbruch (2003), Galerie Hallman Strauss, Munich (2010,2005), Chongju and Gaya, South Korea, Tuchersfeld Frankishe Schweiz Museum, Germany National Museum of Fine Arts, Valletta.

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