The Malta Jazz Festival is one of the most important summer European jazz festivals, whereby it combines wide audience appeal with quality and artistic integrity, hosting the most important jazz icons over the past 29 years. Running over 6 days in Valletta’s historical setting, it has also raised the profile of jazz locally through the ‘Jazz on the Fringe’ events.
The festival presents the myriad of styles which constitute the contemporary jazz world, without surrendering to the complacency of a line–up featuring pop or non-jazz acts, which unfortunately seems to be the norm in several major jazz festivals nowadays. This vision is reflected in the eclectic line-up of the festival. It is a festival of contrasts and coherence, featuring the cutting-edge and the avant-garde, the mainstream, and also historical jazz icons without deviating from the ‘jazz’ element. By combining contrasting styles on the same night, the festival has a strong ‘educational’ element. A typical night at the Malta Jazz Festival features double-bills with a mainstream group and a cutting-edge act. The layman attending the mainstream concert will also discover the other cutting-edge and avant-garde bands.
The Malta Jazz Festival has played an important role in nurturing interest in this art-form in the Maltese islands, and since its creation many local artists have emerged on the local scene, pursuing an international professional career. Another important aim of the festival is to nurture collaborations and partnerships with other festivals, music colleges, and jazz communities in Europe. Over the past years the festival has produced, commissioned, and financed artistic collaborations between local and foreign musicians in an ongoing mission to stimulate the local scene and create networks and exchanges with other European jazz scenes. Every year the festival features at least two concerts featuring such collaborations. In 2015, the Malta Jazz Festival created The Fringe Youth Jazz Ensemble, a yearly collaboration/exchange scheme between the Festival and international music establishments.