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Francisco Mela

Cuban-born jazz drummer Francisco Mela is an in-demand performer and session musician who combines his knowledge of Cuban musical traditions with jazz and contemporary styles. Born in Bayamo, Cuba in 1968, Mela grew up studying the piano and drums and eventually enrolled at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2000. Mela's deep expertise in Cuban music and advanced jazz technique soon caught the attention of the school and he quickly moved from student to teacher. In 2001, Mela toured as a member of Jane Bunnett's Spirit of Havana ensemble and later joined saxophonist Joe Lovano's group along with bassist Esperanza Spalding. Mela has also found work with such legendary artists as pianists Kenny Barron and McCoy Tyner. In 2006, Mela released his debut solo album, Melao, which featured Lovano along with guitarist Lionel Loueke, saxophonists Anat Cohen and George Garzone, and others. He returned in 2008 with the live album Cirio: Live at the Blue Note, which found the drummer playing alongside such similarly adventurous artists as saxophonist Mark Turner and pianist Jason Moran. In 2011, inspired by such longtime influences as Miles Davis' band with keyboardists Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea, the innovative fusion group Weather Report, and Chucho Valdés with Irakere, Mela and his ensemble Cuban Safari released the studio effort Tree of Life. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi
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