Malta 2014: Mehliana, Harrell, Brecker

The 24th edition of the annual Maltese Jazz Festival in July headlines with Mehliana, Tom Harrell, Kneebody and Randy Brecker

Malta’s 24th annual jazz festival returns this summer to the open-air setting of Ta’Liesse, Valletta, Malta from 17 to 19 July.

Headliners this year include Tom Harrell's Colors of a Dream (featuring Esperanza Spalding), Brad Mehldau's and Mark Guiliana's Mehliana, and Randy Brecker's Brecker Bros Reunion Band, the latter revisiting the seminal fusion album Heavy Metal Bebop. Other acts confirmed to appear include the Laurent Coq Dialogue Trio, Kneebody, and Warren Wolf, as well as a selection of local and fringe artists.

The festival has passed through various manifestations since it was founded by Charles Gatt in 1991. The current artistic director Sandro Zerafa told Jazz Journal: “The festival was outsourced to a private company from 2006 to 2008. The result was a watered-down populist approach with few 'real' jazz acts. The Malta Council for Culture and the Arts took the festival back in 2009 under my artistic direction and it has been going strong since then.

“This year’s line-up will showcase the diversity of styles which constitute the contemporary jazz scene. In its mission to combine a wide audience appeal with quality and artistic integrity, this year the festival will feature a variety of cutting-edge acts - some blend electronica with jazz elements, others combine Caribbean/Creole influences with modern jazz piano and others are more straight-ahead and mainstream.”

Trumpeter and flugelhornist Tom Harrell (pictured above), whose compositions have been recorded by Carlos Santana, Kenny Barron and the Brussels Jazz Orchestra and others, will perform with his band Colors of a Dream on Thursday 17 July, joined by Jaleel Shaw, Wayne Escoffery, Ugonna Okegwo and Esperanza Spalding.

Mehliana, bringing together pianist Brad Mehldau and percussionist Mark Guiliana (pictured left), will play at Ta’Liesse on Friday 18 July. Vibraphonist Warren Wolf, a member of the SF Jazz Collective, appears on Saturday 19 July, followed by trumpeter Randy Brecker (pictured below) with his Brecker Bros Reunion Band featuring Terry Bozzio. See the full programme here.

Malta Jazz Festival has become known for its quality mix of local and international musicians in an idyllic island setting. Direct flights from Air Malta take less than three hours from the UK. Visit to find out more and book tickets, and see the festival’s Facebook page for updates.

Sally Evans-Darby

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