Francisco Mela: Benes




Francisco Mela (drums)


Cirio (HN 4536)

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Francisco Mela (drums), Lionel Loueke (guitar),

Larry Grenadier (bass)


Composed by Lionel Loueke


Recorded: live at the Blue Note, New York, September 4-5, 2007


Rating: 87/100 (learn more)

Composed by Lionel Loueke, "Benes" is Brazilian in mood but rhythmically located closer to the composer's native West Africa. Francisco Mela may be the leader, but this is a showcase for his guitarist. Loueke sets the tone alone with a syncopated, off-center repeating pattern. Starting with single-note lines, the Beninese adroitly transitions to a countermelody played in chords, and then back again. As he moves into the bridge, the playing becomes more fluid and his light phrasing evokes without copying Pat Metheny. Mela and Grenadier fill out the spaces underneath, with the leader dovetailing Loueke's syncopations and Grenadier sometimes doing the same, other times occupying more lyrical territory.

Mela perceptively saw the core beauty of an alluring melody that perhaps could have been performed easier by his full quintet, entrusting it instead mostly to Loueke. The guitarist delivers.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron

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