Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

8

Francisco Mela: Ancestros

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
One of the many fine musicians coming out of Cuba, Francisco Mela is an accomplished drummer/percussionist and composer. On Ancestros, his debut on the vinyl-only subscription label Newvelle, he has contributed seven original compositions to a collection that includes covers from Andrew Hill and Paul Motian. The album name—and its title track—are appropriated from Mela's prior release Fe (Self-produced, 2016). On two of Mela's previous releases, Melao (Ayva Musica, 2006) and Tree of Life (Half Note, 2011), progressive jazz shares the program with solid Latin influences. That is less the case with Ancestros where Mela takes a broadminded, free-wheeling approach.

Mela arrived in Boston in 2001 to attend Berklee College of Music, where he later taught. He has worked with many notable artists including Joe Lovano, John Scofield, JoAnne Brackeen, Kenny Barron, McCoy Tyner and Lionel Loueke. Pianist Kris Davis and reed player Hery Paz are both part of Mela's working quartet and sextet and they are joined here by bassist Gerald Cannon. Pundits have been hoisting Davis' star for half a decade while she has quietly earned respect and admiration among the best of her peers in creative music. Among the those she has worked with are John Zorn, Craig Taborn, Don Byron, Tyshawn Sorey, Michael Formanek, Tony Malaby, Ingrid Laubrock, Mary Halvorson and Tom Rainey. Ancestros is her twentieth recording and follows Octopus (Pyroclastic Records, 2018), her duo outing Craig Taborn.

Paz, another Cuban émigré, now residing in New York, studied saxophone at New England Conservatory. Along with his role in Mela's groups, the multi-instrumentalist has recorded with the Willy Rodriguez Quintet. Cannon, a Wisconsin native, met Milt Hinton while attending the University of Wisconsin. Hinton's impact triggered a life change for the bassist that sent him off to the state's conservatory to study music. The accomplished bassist also studied piano and is a gifted painter as well. Cannon has worked with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Dexter Gordon, Cedar Walton, Billy Higgins, Hamiet Bluiett and many other jazz luminaries.

Ancestros suggests a line of succession, and Mela, by proxy, casts a wide net in exploring musical lineages. To be sure, there are plenty of mystifying constructs such as the title track, "Vino" and "Ornette," the latter of the three featuring Davis and Paz engaged in a complex dialogue, often at fever pitch. Darkness dangles over "Black Movie" and Motian's "Mumbo Jumbo" where Paz's bass clarinet creates an ominous setting; Mela, making the most of his slight, frequently soft, signals. Andrew Hill's "Not So" is one of the more overtly melodic pieces on the album, but it is not without a distinct quirkiness. Side B opens and closes with contrasting versions of Mela's "It's Good to be Free"; the first approaches anarchy as it develops, the second plays out like a haunted lullaby.

Ancestros is steeped in imaginative communications that begin with silhouettes and ultimately take on a distinct form before disintegrating. The playing is highly expressive; extending phrases or collapsing them, without lavish embellishments but often with raw energy. There are stunning performances from Davis and Paz, and Mela is a master of nuance and flexibility, regardless of the style the group is engaged in. Ancestros is the most eclectic Newvelle release to date and one of the most interesting.

Track Listing: Side A: Black Movie; Duende; Vino; Ornette; Side B: It’s Good to be Free; Not So; Mumbo Jumbo; Ancestros; It’s Good to be Free.

Personnel: Francisco Mela: drums; Hery Paz: saxophone, bass clarinet; Kris Davis: piano; Gerald Cannon: bass.

Title: Ancestros | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Newvelle Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Ancestros

Ancestros

Newvelle Records
2018

buy
Fe

Fe

Self Produced
2016

buy
Tree Of Life

Tree Of Life

Half Note Records
2011

buy
Cirio

Cirio

Half Note Records
2008

buy
Cirio: Live at the Blue Note

Cirio: Live at the...

Half Note Records
2008

buy
Melao

Melao

Ayva Musica
2006

buy
Date Detail Price
Jan7Mon
8:00 pm
FRANCISCO MELA & FRIENDS
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$15.00
Jan7Mon
10:30 pm
FRANCISCO MELA'S ANCESTROS
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$15.00

Related Articles

Read Vilddjur CD/LP/Track Review
Vilddjur
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Lines in Sand CD/LP/Track Review
Lines in Sand
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It CD/LP/Track Review
Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 11, 2018
Read The Brave CD/LP/Track Review
The Brave
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Strings 1 CD/LP/Track Review
Strings 1
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Pillars CD/LP/Track Review
Pillars
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 10, 2018
Read "Whispers And Cries" CD/LP/Track Review Whispers And Cries
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 1, 2018
Read "Roscanna" CD/LP/Track Review Roscanna
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 1, 2018
Read "Long Time Gone/To Beat Or Not To Beat" CD/LP/Track Review Long Time Gone/To Beat Or Not To Beat
by Doug Collette
Published: January 6, 2018
Read "Learn To Live" CD/LP/Track Review Learn To Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 3, 2018
Read "Sextet (Parker) 1993" CD/LP/Track Review Sextet (Parker) 1993
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 19, 2018
Read "Ara" CD/LP/Track Review Ara
by Don Phipps
Published: January 4, 2018