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Take Five With Mário Franco


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Meet Mario Franco:
Mário Franco was born in 1965 and started music lessons when he was four years old in Centro Estudos Gregorianos. Franco studied music theory with Maria José Godinho then with Cristina Brito da Cruz in the Academia de Amadores De Música. During his time at Academia Amadores De Música, he initated double bass and chamber music with Fernando Flores and composition with Pedro Rocha.

Franco attended double bass courses with Ludwig Strecher in Estoril and won 1st prize in the Prémio Jovens Músicos. Later he became a member of the Orquestra Sinfónica Juvenil where he worked on classical repertoire with conductor Christopher Bochmann. Mário Franco has also worked under the baton of Silva Pereira, Roberto Perez and Michel Swierczewski.

Later on Franco became interested in jazz and started taking guitar lessons with António Ferro and began double bass lessons at Hot Club Jazz School with David Gausden. Franco also took part in workshops with notable jazz artists like Rufus Reid, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Eberhard Weber and Dave Liebman.

In 1990, Mário Franco presented his first project based on original compositions and was awarded 1st prize for his group and 2nd prize for composition in "A Juventude e a Música." He has performed in numerous countries like China, Japan, Spain, France, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Russia, Brazil and his homeland in Portugal.

Double bass, electric bass, guitar, and piano.

Teachers and/or influences?
Double Bass influences: Paul Chambers, Charles Mingus, Scott LaFaro, Gary Peacock, Charlie Haden, Dave Holland, Scott Colley among others...

Road story: Your best or worst experience:
In 2007, I was touring with my quintet (This Life) featuring David Binney after having several performances with the National Ballet Company. I was so tired that when I was presenting the musicians at our concert in Matosinhos Jazz Festival, and was about to thank the organization and say how happy I was to be there, I suddenly realized I couldn't remember the name of the festival. My friend, André Fernandes, started to laugh, and soon the audience was laughing too. I looked back at the band who were all laughing helplessly, except for our sound technician was pointing wildly at the wall behind me, where Festival Jazz de Matosinhos was printed in big letters. After this hilarious and embarrassing moment, the concert started and was really great!

Favorite venue:
Hot Clube de Portugal in Lisbon.

The first Jazz album I bought was:
Les Grands Pianistes de Jazz RCA Victor (RCA Victor, 1965).

Did you know...
I am a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Lisbon and jazz is not my only musical context. I also play with Early and Contemporary Music Consort Sete Lágrimas, Pedro Caldeira Cabral, and Miguel Amaral who are both well-known Portuguese guitar players. I also play occasionally with fado singers like Carminho and Camané. In 2013, film director Bruno de Almeida invited me to write the music for his short film A Palestra. The film was presented in several film festivals.

CDs you are listening to now:
David Binney, Graylen Epicenter (Mythology Records, 2011);
Mário Laginha, Terra Seca (ONC, 2013);
Markku Ounaskari, Kuara ( ECM, 2010);
John Abercrombie, 39 Steps (ECM, 2013);
Craig Taborn, Chants (ECM, 2013).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
In constant development; it is open to other musical influences but it still maintains its identity of musical dialogue based on improvisation. Jazz today is open to new ways of composing while always keeping improvisation as one of its principal components.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
To keep on taking risks, keep an open mind to new musical ideas, which is how jazz has developed over the years. Talented musicians such as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman have created a musical pathway that we are still pursuing while always trying to find our own way.

What is in the near future?
Recent Recordings:
As sideman: Cérebro: Estado Zero, Desidério Lázaro Trio ( Sintoma Records, 2013)
As co-leader: Cine Qua Non, Cine Qua Non (Sintoma Records, 2013)
As leader: Our Door Mário Franco Trio (TOAP Records, 2013)
Pending projects: New CD with Sete Lágrimas to be released in 2014, concerts with Sete Lágrimas in Portugal at CCB, and at Salle de Musique de Chambre, Philharmonie Luxembourg in September 2014. As well as concerts in Portugal with my trio.

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