Mário Franco started music lessons at the age of 4 in Centro de Estudos Gregorianos. After one year in Lisbon Conservatory where he studied harp, singing and music theory he went on to Academia de Amadores de Música, where he continued his studies in music theory with Cristina Brito da Cruz and he started double bass lessons with Fernando Flores, and composition with Pedro Rocha as well as studying chamber music.
He subsequently became interested in jazz. and became a member of the Lisbon Hot Club. After having bass guitar lessons with António Ferro he began taking Double bass lessons with David Gausden and playing in jam sessions; also took part in workshops with Rufus Reid, Niels Henning, Orsted Pederson, Eberhard Weber, etc.
In 1986-87 attended double-bass courses given by Ludwig Streicher in Estoril and in 1988 won 1st prize in the Prémio Jovens Músicos (Young Musicians Competition); later became a member of Orquestra Sinfónica Juvenil where he worked on classical repertory with conductor Christopher Bochmann.
Also worked with conductors Silva Pereira, Miguel Graça Moura, Alberto Nunes, Roberto Perez, Michel Swierczewski, Cesário Costa...
As from 1984 plays jazz and improvised music in Portugal and abroad with musicians such as António Pinho Vargas, Mário Laginha, João Paulo Esteves de Silva, Bernardo Sasseti, Benny Lackner, Carlo Morena, Luis Barrigas, Luis Figueiredo, Dan Hewson, Carlos Martins, Tomás Pimentel, Maria João, Luigi Waites, Louis Stewart, Tommy Halferty, John Wadham, Zlatko Kaucic, Peter Guidi, Sérgio Pelágio, António Pinto, José Peixoto, Desidério Lázaro, Jarmo Savolainen, Markku Ounaskari, Jim Leff, Ralph Peterson, Jr., Samuel Rohrer, Paolo Fresu, Daniel Erdmann, Julian Argüelles, Andy Sheppard, Myra Melford, Jon Irabagon, David Binney, Peter Epstein, Ralph Towner, among others.
Appeared on TV and played live radio broadcasts in Portugal.
In 1990 presented his first project based on original compositions; was awarded 1st prize for his group and 2nd prize for composition in the competition“ A Juventude e a Música“ (Young People and Music).
Has an entry of his own in a book by musicologist Jorge Lima Barreto, “MusaLusa”, Hugin 1997, Lisboa.
Is mentioned for his work with Tomás Pimentel in the bilingual quarterly journal “The Role of Jazz” written by José Duarte, edited by Edições Cotovia, Lda. Lisboa, 1998.
Has performed outside Portugal, for instance in Macau, Japan, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Norway, Brazil, Russia… Has participated in some of Portugal's most important music festivals such as:
Festival de Música dos Capuchos 1985; Jazz na Cidade 1988 and 1990; 5 ª Jornadas Internacionais da Oficina Musical 90; Lisboa em Jazz 90; Encontros de Jazz do Algarve 91; 16º Encontros Gulbenkian de Música Contemporânea 92 (Fundação Gulbenkian); 3º Festival de Jazz Europeu no Porto 93; Jazz no Parque, 3ª edição (Fundação Serralves) 95; Festas de Lisboa 95 and 96; Festa do Avante 90, 94, 96 and 14 ; Seixal Jazz Festival in 98 and 05; Festival Internacional de Jazz de Faro in 99 “Jazz no Inverno”; Musicalidades 01; Jazz em Agosto (Gulbenkian Foundation) 87, 88, 90, 95 and 05; in 3º and 5º Maio Jazz Almodovar 05 and 07; Festival de Jazz de Estremoz 06 and 08; Formas – Feira de Artes Performativas 08; International Film Festival IndieLisboa 07; 10º Festival de Jazz de Valado de Frades 07; 11º Matosinhos em Jazz 07; 1º Festival de Jazz de Sines 07; Festival Quarta Parede (Covilhã) Y#5, Y#11 07 and 14; 1º Ciclo de concertos “O Som das Musas” Vila Flor 07; 2º Festival Internacional de Palmela 07; Mudas Jazz Sessions (Madeira) 08; Jazz às 5 as CCB 08 and 10; 1ª Feira de Artes Performativas de Tavira 08 and 10; Festival Internacional de Marionetas 08; Festival Internacional de Música dos Açores 09; 6º Festival Terras sem Sombra 10; Ciclo de Jazz do Fundão 09; Festival Jazz.pt 08 and 10; Portugal Jazz 07, 09 and 10; Ciclos de Jazz (Quinta da Regaleira) 11, 12, 13 and 14; Jazz no Palácio 10 and 14; Jazz à Marinha 10 and 15; XIII Festival de Música Antígua de Gijón (Spain) 10; Ciclo de Música de Verão (Almada) 11; Festival “Os Sons de Almada Velha” 13 and 16; Música in Patrimonium Festival (Almodôvar) 11; Cascais Cool Jazz Fest 11; Festival de Sablé (France) 12; Abulensis Festival Internacional de Música Ávila (Spain) 12; Gent Festival of Flanders (Belgium) 12; Festa do Jazz 06, 12, 16 and 17; 31 Festival Música Em Leiria 13; Festival Abril Jazz Mil 13 and 15; 2º Festival Fora do Lugar 13 and 16; 1º Festival Sintoma Records 13; Chekhov International Theatre Festival - Program 13 (Moscow); Ruas Floridas Redondo 13; Festival ao Largo 12 and 13; CCB / Dias da Música 14, 15, 16 and 17; Noites Azuladas no Cargaleiro 14 and 15; Early Music Festival in Prague (Czech Republic) 14; Quebra Jazz (Coimbra) 14 and 17; Philharmonie Luxembourg Salle de Musique de Chambre (Luxembourg) 14; Mostra de Cultura Portuguesa em Madrid (Spain) 14; Lisbon International Contemporary Dance 15; JAZZUS – 1º Festival de Jazz AEFBAUL 15; Ciclo de concertos Reencontros (Sintra) 15; PJM (Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian) 15 and 16; Festival Douro Jazz 15; “Jazz +351” Jazz Cycle – Culturgest 16 and 17; Festival de Jazz de Minde 16 and 17; Espinho International Music Festival – 42º FIME 16; Angra Jazz 16; Festival Música em São Roque 16; Antena 2 Music Festival 17; – Ciclo in Jazz – (Guarda) 17; De Bijloke Muziekcentrum (Belgium) 17...Read more
- This Life by Phil DiPietro
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“(…) the bass player Mário Franco is finishing the year with a new work in his own name that stands out from the national record panorama, also because this album is so different from the artist’s anterior activity in acoustic jazz and because it doesn´t have any references to his dedication to the baroque music repertoire. „Rush“ explores a different dimension, one that derived from his former collaboration with Sérgio Pelágio (Our Door, 2013), with a style influenced by rock and other urban music.
What makes this album so special is the fact that is it not passively sticking to a stylistic corset: it is neither simply jazz-rock or rock-jazz, nor an actualization called progressive rock or post-rock that finally discovered the love for jazz. Mário Franco is looking for different leads and is finding them, with intriguing compositional ideas that he and the other members of the quintet put into practice with a dedication and energy that deserves applause.”