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Francisco Mela


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It’s no secret that for most of the 20th Century, Cuban music and musicians played important roles in influencing and revitalizing North American popular culture. From Ernesto Lecuona and Desi Arnaz to Chano Pozo, Paquito D’Rivera and Gloria Estefan, a wide stylistic panorama, from classical to pop and jazz idioms, has been constantly invigorated by the presence of supremely talented Cuban musicia

ns and their distinctive music traditions. Mela is very much a part of that grand and glorious tradition. His imposing talent will be on full display, bearing ear witness to his interactive quartet, featuring saxophonist Greg Osby, pianist Sam Yahel, and bassist Matt Penman.

Half Note Records released Cirio (Sept. 23), Francisco Mela’s first live allbum and second recording as a leader. The Cuban-born drummer assembled a superior cast of playmates - Jason Moran, Lionel Loueke, Mark Turner and Larry Grenadier - for this live recording captured at the Blue Note Club in New York City. Together they make music informed by the rhythms of Mela’s homeland, while also going beyond into adventurous modern jazz. In the process, he evinces a versatility rare among young players; his interactions with different combinations of group members underscore his collaborative instincts.

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