Francisco Mela

Melao | Ayva
By JON GARELICK  |  August 9, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars

The debut CD from this young Cuban drummer (nowliving in Boston) scores as a show-case for his compositions (which mix Afro-Cuban roots with a loosemodern jazz style along the Miles-Wayne-Herbie axis), as a great small-group session with a stellar cast, and as a demonstration of his own instru-mental prowess. The first tune,“John Ramsay” (named for theBoston drummer), begins with the maze of Lionel Loueke’s acoustic-guitar patterns and follows with a theme that bumps and lurches on displaced accents like some long-lost Monk score before the soft, fluttery Getz-like tenor sax of Anat Cohen enters. George Garzone and Joe Lovano alternate the tenor role on the remaining cuts. “Galaxy” is the one tune that brings them to-gether — it begins and ends with their overlapping counterlines,and in between there’s a tough,buoyant two-tenor theme and hard-driving solos that might re-call an old Blue Note date with Sam Rivers and Joe Henderson. Nir Felder provides electric guitar andeffects on other cuts; Leo Genovese plays Fender Rhodes, but his acoustic runs “across the bar lines”and explosive double-time passage on the straight-ahead “Arere” are standouts. Mela (who sometimes states an opening theme with ason-montuno style vocal) and bassist Peter Slavov achieve the perfect balance of tight and loose, beats that refresh the ear at every turn. There’s also a Mela-Lovano duet — and give them extra points for covering Ornette Coleman’s“Law Years.”

Francisco Mela Quintet | Regattabar, Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St, Cambridge | November 21 | 617.395.7757

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  Topics: CD Reviews , Ornette Coleman, Leo Genovese, George Garzone,  More more >
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