286

Francisco Mela: Melao

Russ Musto By

Sign in to view read count
Francisco Mela: Melao
Cuban-born, New York-based drummer Francisco Mela's debut as leader introduces an important new creative talent to the international jazz scene. As its title implies—literally, melao is the Spanish word for the dark syrup concocted from cane sugar; figuratively, it describes any potent mixture of varied ingredients—the disc is a musical mélange of Mela compositions with a constantly changing cast of players.

That group includes tenor saxophonists Anat Cohen, George Garzone and Joe Lovano, guitarists Lionel Loueke and Nir Felder, pianist Leo Genovese and bassist Peter Slavov. Mela achieves true variety by utilizing a different configuration of personnel and/or instrumentation on each of the ten tracks, yet he maintains a consistency in mood and sound by assiduously adhering to a musical philosophy that ingeniously melds elements of Afro-Cuban music with both traditional and free jazz.

The opening "John Ramsay, a melodious quartet outing featuring Cohen's supple, airy tenor and Loueke's gossamer guitar, gently flows into "Sopresa, which starts with a traditional Cuban vocal chant by the leader and moves into an electric Miles mode generated by Felder's ethereal electric guitar and Garzone's brawny but brooding horn. Lovano and Genovese are featured on "Arere, a hard-swinging, straight-ahead, rhythm-driven number with boppish harmonies.

"Parasuayo again combines a vocal choir sung by Mela with Garzone's dark tenor and a Miles-influenced electronic atmosphere generated by Fender Rhodes and guitar. Lovano and Garzone join forces on "Galaxy, a traditional two-tenor quintet tour de force (with Genovese at the piano), bookended by an abstract introduction and ending.

Cohen and Loueke are back on "Chela, a charming Spanish-tinged showcase for the former's formidable clarinet and the latter's lithe guitar. "Obayoko begins with Garzone blowing a melodic head very much like Wayne Shorter's "Fall, before Mela intones a Santeria prayer that introduces the piece. Then it moves between rubato rhythms reminiscent of Elvin Jones and a traditional Afro-Cuban clave, Slavov laying down an unfaltering beat over which Garzone and Genovese stretch out expansively.

Ornette Coleman's "Law Years features the trio of Loueke, Slavov and Mela harmolodically weaving melody, harmony and rhythms around each other in the spirit of the composer. The closing "Parallel World presents a vigorous dialogue between Lovano and Mela highlighting the leader's subtle, shifting rhythmic patterns, which are abundantly evident throughout the date, thanks to the technically superb quality of the recording.

Track Listing

John Ramsey; Sopresa; Arere; Parasuayo; Galaxy; Chela; Obayoko (Intro); Obayoko; Law Years; Parallel Worlds.

Personnel

Francisco Mela: drums, vocals, percussion; Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone; George Garzone: tenor saxophone; Anat Cohen: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Lionel Loueke: guiktar; Nir Felder: electric guitar & effects; Leo Genovese: piano, Fender Rhodes, keyboard; Peter Slavov: bass.

Album information

Title: Melao | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Ayva Musica

Post a comment about this album

Tags

View events near New York City
Jazz Near New York City
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop Amazon

More

Read A Walk in the Park
A Walk in the Park
Jerry Cook Quartet +
Read New Aurora
New Aurora
Michael Sarian
Read Unnavigable Tributaries
Unnavigable Tributaries
Vicente / Brice / Sanders
Read How To turn the Moon
How To turn the Moon
Angelica Sanchez & Marilyn Crispell
Read The Path
The Path
Chien Chien Lu
Read Golden Daffodil
Golden Daffodil
Leslie Beukelman
Read Message from Groove and GW
Message from Groove and GW
The Radam Schwartz Organ Big Band
Read Duos & Trios
Duos & Trios
Armaroli - Schiaffini - Sjostrom

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.