Articles | Popular | Future

ALBUM REVIEWS

Francisco Mela: Ancestros

Read "Ancestros" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Francisco Mela & The Crash Trio: Fe

Read "Fe" reviewed by James Nadal

Since departing Cuba to study at Berklee in 2000, drummer Francisco Mela has been on a meteoric trajectory throughout the jazz dominion. In 2005 he joined the Joe Lovano Quartet, and in 2009 the McCoy Tyner Trio, all the while releasing three critically acclaimed albums as leader. Fe is his first venture with The Crash Trio, a dynamic showcase of poly-rhythmic drumming and propulsive modernism. Fe translates into faith, and this is Mela's homage to his late parents, ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Francisco Mela & Cuban Safari: Tree Of Life

Read "Tree Of Life" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

A safari, in essence, is all about the idea of an encounter between the tamed, usually in the form of adventure-seeking humans, and the wild, which they aim to explore. The same could be said for the music that drummer Francisco Mela creates with Cuban Safari on Tree Of Life. For his third solo outing, the Cuban-born drummer, best known for his work as part of the two drummer-and-bass team that anchors saxophonist Joe Lovano's Us Five outfit, assembled a ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Francisco Mela: Cirio

Read "Cirio" reviewed by Martin Longley

Subtitled “Live At The Blue Note," this hour-long set was recorded in September of 2007, drummer Francisco Mela surrounded by players with profiles much higher than his own. This is some statement, regarding the New York-based Cuban's skills. Mark Turner (tenor sax), Lionel Loueke (guitar), Jason Moran (piano) and Larry Grenadier (bass) are all allowed ample soloing time within Mela's highly organic compositions. Even though abstraction is a dominant force, the core nature of this music is mainstream. Mela can ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Francisco Mela: Cirio: Live at the Blue Note

Read "Cirio: Live at the Blue Note" reviewed by J Hunter

Unlike many who started out at the Berklee School of Music--doing more time in the clubs than the classroom--Francisco Mela skipped the step of Berklee and went straight into the Boston club scene, working with the likes of Danilo Perez (who'd urged Mela to move from Cuba to Beantown in the first place), Roy Haynes, and fellow countryman Gonzalo Rubalcaba. So while the hype surrounding Cirio is worthy of Generation Y2K lions like Aaron Parks and Christian Scott, both Mela's ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Francisco Mela: Cirio

Read "Cirio" reviewed by Mark F. Turner

Cirio is evidence that Francisco Mela marches and plays to the beat of a different drummer. Combining artistic influences of his Cuban upbringing with modern jazz, the youthful Boston based drummer/composer has studied at Berkley, toured with pianist Kenny Barron and performed with saxophonist Jane Bunnett's Grammy nominated “Spirits of Havana Band."

Yet it's his voice that pierces this live recording at New York's Blue Note as he is joined by seminal rising stars Lionel Loueke, Mark Turner, ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Francisco Mela: Melao

Read "Melao" reviewed by Russ Musto

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Francisco Mela: Melao

Read "Melao" reviewed by Jim Santella

Working with an all-star group of artists in a variety of settings, drummer Francisco Mela drives with the spirit of Cuban fire behind him. Born in Cuba and resident in Boston, the thirty-something percussionist has created a fine keepsake for his first recording as leader. Nine originals and one Ornette Coleman tune feature different guitar and saxophone voices as the drummer propels his rhythm section along a spontaneous path.

Joe Lovano romps joyfully on three of Mela's compositions, ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Francisco Mela: Melao

Read "Melao" reviewed by Norman Weinstein

Cuban drummers relocating to the US over the years have made a remarkable contribution to jazz on these shores, and Francisco Mela is the newest talent to add to that list. Melao is a striking tour de force for the young drummer/composer, who transplanted himself from Havana to Boston a decade ago. Mela has wisely surrounded himself with some of Boston's brightest young talents, not to mention a generous and gorgeous cameo by Joe Lovano on several tunes.