Mario Aquilina ''Cocker''

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Mario Aquilina, nicknamed Cocker was born in Valletta on the 1 st of April 1956.

Questioned by many about the origins of his nickname, Mario explains about earning the nickname after his huge resemblance to the world renowned singer, the late Joe Cocker.

Mario started his primary education at tal-Pilar school and later he continued his secondary education at St. Albert’s College.

He fell in love with music at the age of 21, were eventually he enrolled at The Johann Strauss School of Music (1977). His first love was instantly the double bass, and under the tuition of Mro. Anthony Chircop, he studied classical music.

Away from the academic stuff, Mario loved to frequent clubs were he could see and listen to actual bands performing, amongst the genres, he loved Rock and Jazz. Unexpectedly for Mario he was once approached by his now great friend and musician Joe 'Bibi' Camilleri, were the latter offered him to join a live band. Despite having to bass guitar, ‘Il-Cocker’ immediately accepted the offer. Excited with this new venture, he bought his first Bass Guitar, an Egmond for £20 and that gave the kick start to Mario’s musical career.

With Joe ‘il-Bibi’ who also introduced Jazz to Mario, they used to practice jazz also at the school of music, were he also met legendary Maltese drummer Charles ‘City’ Gatt. Mario’s first engagement was at the Nigret Club with The Tony Gauci Band, were later they recorded their first single Il-Kalendarju and then Il-Kampanjol. You can say that Il-Cocker played in all the prominent venues around the island of Malta and Gozo, hotels, clubs amongst them The Palladium, you name it! He accompanied bands and artists, giving shows with both Local and foreign talent. His career went on also internationally, playing with Gino Quartet in Scotland, Siciliy with Paul Giordimaina, Bratislava Jazz festival, Paris, Italy and Cyprus Jazz Fest with Dominic Galea Trio, Morocco and Russia with Charles ‘City’ Gatt.

Amongst his great opportunities, Mario is so proud to have played in The Malta Jazz Festival 4 times. At the time of writing, Mario is the resident bassist with Heathcliffe Balzan’s Quartet were together they perform during Friday Jazz nights at ‘The Gazin’ Vilhena Band Club for the past 6 years. Away from his musical career, Mario is a family man, married to Rita and together they have two children Douglas & Alexandra During his musical Career, Mario Played with the likes of; Paul Giordimaina Trio Leli ‘Budella’ Spiteri, Trio Gino Ciancio Quartet Lewis Dalli Trio Val Valente Quartet Sammy Murgo Quartet Vinny Vella Jr. Quartet Dominic Galea Trio Heathcliff Balzan Quartet ft. Sammy Murgo Mario Aquilina’s discography consists in the participation of 10 CD albums;

10 CD Albums

  • No Talk,
  • No Nonsense Take 1 Take 2
  • Mnajdra Jazz Suite
  • Tribute to the pioneers of Jazz
  • Ommi
  • Tune Up Sammy’s Swing
  • Another Way
  • The Beatles Works
  • Nazca