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Francisco Mela feat:
Matthew Shipp & William Parker

-Music Frees Our Souls Vol.1- 577 Records



-Music Frees Our Souls Vol.1 – (577 Records, 2021) Francisco Mela, drums/ Matthew Shipp, piano/ William Parker, bass 



Texto: Pepo Márquez

Fotos: Kenneth Jimenez

Drummer Francisco Mela (Cuba, 1968) is living the last few months at full speed: of the eight albums as a leader that make up his discography since he debuted with Melao in 2006 (released by the Barcelona label Ayva Música), the last two have seen the light in 2021…



Francisco Mela ft. William Parker, Matthew Shipp, for McCoy Tyner ‘Music Frees Our Souls, Vol. 1’

…It’s the first time this has happened and it is most likely due to the new momentum his career has taken since he signed for 577 Records just a year ago. The New York imprint was responsible for launching MPT: Francisco Mela Trío, Vol. 1 at the beginning of the year, and on that occasion the trio was completed by the Cuban Hery Paz on tenor saxophone and the guitar of the Venezuelan Juanma Trujillo, also present in this new recording, this time as an assistant engineer. The change from that album to this Music Frees Our Soul Vol. 1 is complete and is marked not only by the alternance of musicians and instruments, but also by the approach: before, songs were written by one or the other, whereas here is a team dedicated to improvisation, to a common effort. An improvisation that does not sound like another day in the studio, but rather conveys an overwhelming sensitivity and inspiration that, unlike too many improvisation records, welcomes the listener instead of pushing them away. And that is exactly where the immense value of this work lies.

Matthew Shipp and William Parker have been among the elite of free jazz and avant-garde music for years, together and separately. Since they met for the first time on Points (Silkheart, 1992), the album that represented Shipp’s second experience as a leader (the quartet was completed by Rob Brown on alto sax and Whit Dickey on drums), the pianist and double bass player haven’t stop to appear together on albums and performances all over the world. The absolute instrumental mastery of Shipp and Parker with their instruments, and the connection proven over almost thirty years of partnership, distances this recording from any frivolity and praises even further the work of Francisco Mela, a heterodox drummer in the forms, a player with his own style and someone who’s far from any gratuitous exhibitionisms. He is the engine of this monumental project: Music Frees Our Soul Vol. 1 is just the first installment of his particular tribute to the historic pianist McCoy Tyner (died in March 2020), who signed him to his trio in 2009 after seeing him play with Joe Lovano’s quintet and who became his mentor in the last years of his life. It was after a concert at the Blue Note in New York City where Tyner said, pointing to Cecil Taylor, who was coming out to greet him in the dressing room: “I wish I were as free as Cecil. We make music to free our souls”. This mysterious statement was forever recorded in Mela’s memory. If all goes according to plan, the trilogy will be completed at the end of this year with the edition of volumes 2 and 3, for which the Cuban has already called upon the pianists Cooper-Moore and Leo Genovese, two other avant-garde jazz referents.

Matthew Shipp – solo piano – Zurcher Gallery, NYC – September 13 2018

Superstitious or not, the session took place on Friday, November 13, 2020, at the Douglass Recording Studios in Brooklyn, New York, where The Neils Cline 4, Julian Lage or Esperanza Spalding have also worked. With a simple but determined “OK guys, you ready? Rolling!» with an undoubted Latin accent, Light of Mind begins, the first of the three compositions that make up Music Frees Our Soul Vol. 1 that lasts up to twenty minutes in length and where the first breath (which is not such either) reaches from minute fifteen. Until that moment, the trio sped down the slope of the free, with Matthew Shipp as the maximum melodic reference and with Mela and Parker leaving a good dust cloud behind them. The case of the double bass player is amazing: at almost 70 years old, he plays better and faster than ever without ever losing his composure or focus. Dark Light is a simple intermission with a melodic ending that doesn’t last four minutes. A well-deserved rest before returning to the race with the seventeen-minute-odd Infinite Consciousness that closes the album. A piece with four very different parts where it seems that Shipp’s right hand approaches a Latin melody just before his left hand turns the piano into a storm.

Music Frees Our Soul Vol. 1 is available in a limited edition of 100 copies on blue vinyl, black vinyl, CD, and digital.


Escrito por Pepo Márquez

31 de Octubre de 2021

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