Charles ‘City’ Gatt has been awarded the Gold Medal 2017 by the Malta Society of Arts in recognition for his contribution to the arts.
Mr 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). He also served as the head of the School of Music for ten years between 1995 and 2005.
Mr Gatt, who studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA in 1978 and 1979, 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. Mr 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.
Mr 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.
As a member of the local Art Group ‘Start’ his installations have been part of numerous exhibitions in Valletta, Vittoriosa and Citadella in Gozo (2003). Mr Gatt is also a member of the European art group ‘Frequenzen’, which has held exhibitions across Europe and beyond.
The private presentation was held in the newly-renovated Concert Hall of Palazzo de La Salle, under the patronage of H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta. The Dominic Galea Jazz Trio, who were joined onstage by Charles Gatt himself, accompanied the ceremony with their live music; including Mr Gatt's own compositions.
Find out more about Mr Gatt's life and work here