Album reviews

Francisco Mela with William Parker and Cooper-Moore – ‘Music Frees Our Souls Vol. 2;    

Francisco Mela with William Parker and Cooper-Moore: Music Frees Our Souls Vol. 2     

 (577 Records. Review by Tony Dudley-Evans)


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Francisco Mela is a Cuban drummer based in the USA who joined McCoy Tyner’s Trio in 2008 having also played with Joe Lovano in the previous three years.  On his Music Frees Our Souls series he wishes to pay tribute to McCoy with albums featuring different pianists but have bass player William Parker as a constant presence on all the albums.  Volume 1 featured Matthew Shipp while Volume 2 features Cooper-Moore. 

Parker and Cooper-Moore are both players that keep alive the music of Ornette Coleman and the New Thing of the 1960s onwards.  Parker is one of the main organisers of the annual Vision Festival at which Cooper-Moore was the artist honoured in 2022.

On the album the high octane improvisations of Cooper-Moore driven by inventive drumming of Mela seem appropriate as a tribute to McCoy.  Parker mostly acts as an anchor to the improvisations and takes relatively few solos. There are three tracks, two are quite long at about 20 minutes, the third, a Radio Edit of the first track, is much shorter at just under 7 minutes. 

Musical Literacy is very much a piano led track though at 8 mins Cooper-Moore allows more space to the bass and drums, and then at 14.5 mins the bass and drums take over for a short duo passage. It’s an absorbing track full of energy and invention.

On Mental Scenario the playing is initially more lyrical and interactive than on the first track, but the tension gradually increases with the piano becoming more dominant. 

Cooper-Moore is a very distinctive pianist whose playing, though more idiosyncratic than McCoy’s, seems right for a tribute to McCoy.  His playing is full of surprises and flavours, and Mela works round his gestures driving him on all the time.  Parker plays a strong anchor role.

577 Records’ recent release schedule has been marked by interesting and ground-breaking albums – like this one.

LINK: Music Frees Our Souls Vol. 2 at Bandcamp

Categories: Album reviews, Reviews

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