AfroHORN “At the Edge of the Spiral” 2-CD | AACE 16-0001CD
- This is the third 2-CD set from the amazing AfroHorn Ensemble, the third part of a trilogy dealing with the mythic Afro-Horn. There are only known to be three actual "Afro-Horns" on this planet. The horns are forged in a rare metal only found in Africa and South America. No one knows who forged the horns but some think that it was the Egyptians. There is one in a heavily-guarded European museum and another on the west coast of Mexico, amongst a tribe of Indians. Former drummer for the Sun Ra Arkestra, Francisco Mora Catlett, has organized his own cosmic crew, an all-star ensemble featuring a number of NYC greats: saxists Sam Newsome, Salim Washington, Bruce Williams & Alex Harding, plus Cuban pianist Aruán Ortiz, bassists Rashaan Carter & Ugona Okewo, several percussionists: Roman Diaz, Andrew Daniels & Catlett himself plus special guest Abiodun Oyewale from the Last Poets. This colossal 2-CD set pays tribute to poet Henry Dumas and Sun Ra. Rhythms, ancient and otherwise are central to what holds this music/concept together. After a fine, ritualistic opening, Sam Newsome’s “The Snake Charmer from Tangier” erupts and comes from a wonderful solo soprano CD that Mr. Newsome released last year. The sly groove and infectious melody help us to feel better since this is indeed medicine for those in need or positive spirits. The piano solo by Aruán Ortiz is sublime yet stunning, as is Mr. Newsome’s soprano solo. “Sister Harriet” is part of a suite for Harriet Tubman and was on an earlier disc by Mr. Catlett. This piece has an enchanting Trane-like modal vibe with an inspired, uplifting tenor solo from Salim Washington and superb bass solo from Rashaan Carter. Another infectious, McCoy Tyner-ish song is called, “Spirit One Voice”, which features an astonishing bari solo from Alex Harding, another one of NYC’s best kept secrets. Disc 2 starts with a splendid poem dedicated to and entitled “Sun Ra”. The poem is written & performed by Abiodun Oyowale from the legendary Last Poets. The music has that joyous, repeating riff, Sun Ra-like groove with layers of swirling saxes, like serpents swimming together. It is certainly rare to hear anyone cover a song by Detroit’s Kenny Cox, who had a couple of great albums on Blue Note in the late sixties. AfroHorn do a swell rendition of Cox’s “Mandela’s Muse”. Even better is even more excellent solos from Alex Harding & Sam Newsome on “Baba”, inspired from the Yoruba heritage in Cuba. There is an organic, spiritual vibe, which runs throughout, making the third chapter of the Afro-Horn odyssey another gem to behold. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
AfroHORN RELEASE SOPHMORE ALBUM "RARE METAL”
AFRO HORN [FRANCISCO MORA With SAM NEWSOME/SALIM WASHINGTON/ALEX HARDING/ et al] - Rare Metal (AACE 13-0001; USA) This is the second release from Francisco Mora Catlett's Afro-Horn ensemble, the personnel is Sam Newsome on soprano sax, Salim Washington on tenor sax, oboe & flute, Alex Harding on bari sax & bass clarinet, Aruan Ortiz on piano, Rashaan Carter on acoustic & electric bass, Roman Diaz & Andrew Daniels on percussions and Francisco More Catlett on drums, percussion, artistic director & composer. Henry Dumas wrote, "There are only three Afro-Horns in the world. They were forged from a rare metal found only in Africa and South America." Is this a myth or is it true phenomena? The Afro-Horn Ensemble was conceived in presence of Sun Ra on his home-world when Francisco was a member of the Arkestra in the mid-seventies. The Afro-Horn Myth has evolved and has left us with this music which transcends our time and celebrates our ancestors. The is the second part of Afro-Horn story and it is indeed a joyous occasion.
I've played this disc perhaps a half dozen times in the past week and all I can say is "Wow!", Francisco and his evolving ensemble have done it again! Francisco always goes a great job of assembling an incredible, powerful and inspired ensemble. The three man sax section with Newsome on soprano, Salim on tenor and Harding on bari sax sound as if they have been playing together for millennia: a tight, spirited, superb blend. The rhythm team also is well chosen. Cuban pianist, Aruan Ortiz, has discs out on Sunnyside, Fresh Sound and FMR is one of the best new pianists to come to New York in recent memory. Bassist Rashaan Carter, who plays with the Cosmosamatics and Antoine Roney, is also a young master. The heart/center of this band is/are the three percussionists: Roman Diaz, Andrew Daniels and Francisco himself. These three weave a fine web of rhythmic lines (thumb piano, congas and assorted hand percussion) together, swirling, inspiring and uplifting the spirits higher and higher. Besides the three saxes, Francisco utilizes other reeds as well: flute, oboe and bass clarinet, adding another layer of harmonies to this already swell spiritual ensemble. Even when the unit lays back, like on "Baruasuayo Mamakenya", they remain enchanting with elegant piano and percussion supporting those swell slow burning solos and floating rhythms. All three saxes get there chance to solo and shine when their time comes. It is the full ensemble playing and arranging that rings true throughout, consistently infectious and deeply committed to resurrecting the Afro-Horn Myth whether you believe in it or not. This fantastic disc is more than 64 minutes long and is excellent throughout its long duration. The Afro-Horn Ensemble is starting to play live over the past year, so don't miss them if you get the chance. They will no doubt knock your socks off if you are still wearing any you sandal-wearing fools. -
DMG / Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
Artist: AFRO HORN MX
[FRANCISCO MORA CATLETT/JD ALLEN/VINCENT BOWENS/ALEX HARDING/ARUAN ORTIZ et al]
Title: Afro Horn Mix [2 CD set]
Label: AACE 12-0001 Country: USA
Format: CD Status: AVAILABLE
Description: Francisco was proud to present Afro Horn for the first time in New York City at The Stone and Cornelia Street Cafe last year. Once again he built a strong and appropriate lineup and music for this exciting concept. He managed to align himself with a band of Detroiters: Alex Harding (baritone sax), Salim Washington (tenor sax) and Hakim Jami (bass), all transplanted New Yorkers who began in Detroit. Francisco is a drummer and composer who in the Jazz tradition brings alive the African Heritage in his music and art. The new Afro Horn project is the AFRO HORN MX 2012 CD release, with a new outstanding line up: JD Allen & Vincent Bowens (tenor saxes), Alex Harding (baritone sax), Aruan Ortiz (piano), Rashaan Carter (bass), Roman Diaz (percussion) and Francisco Mora Catlett (drums).
"Mr. Mora Catlett played drums for the Sun Ra Orchestra for some seven years in the 1970's and learned about the spiritual side of jazz from the Saturnian big band leader himself. The cosmic spirit which is the central fuel for the Arkestra from the mid 1950's onwards and which still continues today is what informs and inspires whatever music Francisco works on and releases. This incredible 2-CD set adds another chapter to Francisco's cosmic journey. There are only known to be three actual "Afro-Horns" on this planet. The horns are forged in a rare metal only found in Africa and South America. No one knows who forged the horns but some think that it was the Egyptians. There is one in a heavily-guarded European museum and another on the west coast of Mexico, amongst a tribe of Indians.
The music here often sounds somewhat free yet revolves around a central theme. The first longer piece is based on "When the Saints Go Marching In" yet it sounds completely fresh, organic and modern. The recording here is perfect: rich, warm and superbly balanced. "Barasuayo" features three saxes playing haunting and hypnotic harmonies over a slow, sensuous dreamscape. Mr. Mora Catlett's drums are always at the center of each piece and he is a master percussionist who never overplays yet supports each member just right. "Quinto Regimiento" reminds me of the Pharoah or McCoy-like record from the early seventies but without any screaming saxes. The great JD Allen (I believe) takes a great slow-burning tenor solo over those mesmerizing piano waves. Aruan Ortiz takes a colossal Dave Burrell-like piano solo with both percussionists weaving a rich web of rhythms underneath. The other tenorman takes his solo and keeps the flames blazes throughout. Bassist Rahsaan Carter who you may recall from his work with Michael Marcus also takes a superb contrabass solo here as does the bari saxist Alex Harding, another one of NY's finest young sax players. There is a long and wonderful poem in the enclosed booklet called "Advices from the Olumo", which deals with the African spirit world and is written in both English and Spanish. It does a fine job of illustrating what makes this disc so magical. Like the Art Ensemble of Chicago Francisco Mora Catlett's Septet blends the ancient and modern as well as the African and Latin streams into a most delectable blend. One of this year's best! - DMG / Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
* The New Afro Horn project is the “AFRO HORN MX” in the 2012 double CD release, with a new outstanding line up; John JD Allen (Tenor Saxophone), Vincent Bowens (Tenor Saxophone), Alex Harding (Baritone Saxophone), Aruán Ortiz (Piano), Rashaan Carter (Bass), Roman Díaz (Percussion), and Francisco Mora Catlett (Drums).
Label: AACE 12-0001CD
Artist: FREEDOM JAZZ TRIO
CRAIG TABORN / CARLO DE ROSA / FRANCISCO MORA CATLETT
Title: Live At The Bronx Museum, 2011
Label: AACE 11-0001 / Country: USA / Format: CD
Description: Outstanding trio featuring Craig Taborn on piano, Carlo De Rosa on bass and Francisco Mora Catlett on drums & compositions. This is former Sun Ra drum master, Francisco Catlett's second swell Freedom Jazz Trio disc, but this time he has replaced pianist Francisco Tristano with one of his Detroit homeys: the consistently amazing Craig Taborn. This is without a doubt one of the finest, most exciting and creative piano trios I've heard in a long, long while. You might also recognize their bassist Carlo De Rosa who has a fine debut disc out on a Cuneiform. This disc was recorded live at the Bronx Museum and has superb sound. There are just four songs and each one is long and involved. Each piece is dedicated to a different inspiration. "Suny" was written for Sun Ra and it erupts from the first note. It begins intense & free, yet completely focused and filled with floating ghosts. When the trio break into the central theme, it repeats over and over and washes over us lights warm rays of sunshine. I am reminded of those Pharoah Sanders or McCoy Tyner songs that uplift our spirits and soothe us. Although all three members are integral to the trio's intoxicating sound, it is the piano solo by Craig Taborn that really shows what a master he has become. "Oduduwa/Bara" was inspired by the cultural contribution of the America's African descendents and it begins sparse, calm and lyrically. This piece slowly ascends with the piano, the bass and then the drums each telling evolving stories. The flow of this piece is completely organic and immensely beautiful. Again Mr. Taborn's solo is a true gem. "Earthtones" is dedicated with deep respect to the planet or Mother Earth. It begins with an excellent mallet solo from Mr. Catlett which builds and tells a tale as it goes. Francisco has that magical touch of writing melodies that stay with us long after the songs end, touching our hearts time and time again. "Sister Harriet" was written for two inspirations - Max Roach and Harriet Tubman. This piece is immensely haunting, somber and quite lovely. I was actually brought to tears as the sublime waves washed over my troubled soul. That swell McCoy-like theme wonderful and impossible to forget. The entire epic-length piece is nearly 25 minutes and presents a journey through hills and valleys like a slow-moving train or the flow of traffic on a highway. As I mentioned earlier, this is certainly thee piano trio offering of the year. - DMG / Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
Artist: FRANCISCO MORA CATLETT & OUTERZONE 2010
With JD ALLEN / CRAIG TABORN / VAL JEANTY / GRAHAM HAYNES / et al
Title: Andromeda-M31 [2 CD set]
Label: AACE 10-0002 / Country: USA / Format: CD
Description: Mr. Catlett is a local hero and drum wiz who played for the Sun Ra Arkestra for about a decade during the seventies. This is his fourth disc as a leader and again he has left us with a amazing treasure. This disc is dedicated to the Planet Earth which has had more than its fair share of disasters this year (Icelandic volcano, Haitian earthquake & the big spill in the Gulf of Mexico). Francisco is a master drummer so the first thing we notice about this disc is that those cosmic drums & Afro-Cuban percussion are at the heart of everything here. With a modest budget, Catlett has also produced a session that has superb sound on all fronts. "Barasuayo" has a mysterious Miles-like groove with three superb horns (tenor, cornet & trumpet) floating on top. Francisco has chosen a great cast for this date with everyone integral to the magical, cerebral and sensual sound. The great JD Allen has that Wayne Shorter-like dark & probing tone that reaches out to grab us & not let go. Electric cornetist, Graham Haynes, glides and slides, bathing his hypnotic Miles-like tone in the right amount of echo. I don't Ms. Val Jeanty, but she does a swell job of adding electronic spice to the sound along with Mr. Taborn's or perhaps Mr. Esposito's electronic keyboards, pushing the entire ensemble further into space. Craig Taborn is another local keyboard ace and here his piano is consistently adding flavor, providing direction and whipping out inspired solos here and these. Bassist Carlo DeRosa, another new name for me, plays great throbbing bass, helping to hold this massive nonet together and pumping lines together with both percussion wizards. What makes this even better is the swirling, interlocking layers of percussion that are infectious and even intoxicating at times. This music is not really free but it is still adventurous and filled with strong spirits. Many of the pieces are pretty long and the entire set runs nearly two hours. At first I was amazed at the consistency of the whole affair, but then again all three previous discs by Francisco Mora Catlett were extraordinary on their own.
For those who need to know, here's the complete personnel: JD Allen on tenor sax, Graham Haynes on cornet & electronics, Guido Gonzales on trumpet, Craig Taborn & Tecla Esposito on piano & electric keyboards, Val Jeanty on turntables & electronics, Carlo DeRosa on bass, Rafael Monteagudo on Afro Cuban percussion and Francisco Mora Catlett on drums, composition & production. - DMG / Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
Artist: FREEDOM JAZZ TRIO [FRANCESCO TRISTANO / CARLO DE ROSA / FRANCISCO MORA CATLETT]
Title: New Under The Sun
Label: AACE / Country: USA / Format: CD
Description: New Under The Sun (AACE; USA) Featuring Francesco Tristano on piano, Carlo De Rosa on bass and Francisco Mora Catlett on drums. A few years back percussionist extraordinare Francisco Mora Catlett left us with two amazing self-produced discs. Turns out that Mr. Catlett had worked with Sun Ra for more than a decade and utilized the talents of Marshall Allen, Craig Taborn & Marcus Belgrave on those great discs. I finally got a chance to see & hear Francisco play live at The Stone last year & realized what a most creative drummer he was. For this disc Mr. Catlett has put together an incredible piano trio which features Francesco Tristano (from Luxembourg) on piano and Carlo De Rosa on acoustic bass. Catlett met Mr. Tristano while working with Carl Craig's Innerzone Orchestra in Europe while Francisco met Mr. De Rosa through his work with Alex Harding.
I played this entire disc at the store yesterday (5/26/10) and considering that it is some 78+ minutes long, I was blown away throughout. "Barasuayo" starts with just minimal percussion playing a subtle, simmering, sly groove. The rest of the trio take their time to come in as the waves slowly ascend, the piece is sublime. "Earth Tones" is for the planet Earth, the piano has a bit of echo on which casts a spell of mystery to the proceedings. Again, the trio glides perfectly as the suspense builds. Bassist Carlo DeRosa is at the center and is excellent here as he adds propulsion and finesse to this great trio. Mr. DeRosa takes a couple of solos and provides excitement whenever he does. The strong undercurrent and interplay between all three members is especially enchanting. One of the things that makes this special is the restraint that keeps the pressure from never boiling over, yet still there is some beautiful music that washes over us like a refreshing Spring shower. I get the feeling that just about any (jazz) piano trio lover would find this gem most charming with equal amounts of creativity and nuance. - DMG / Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
AACE RECORDS is an independent label working to document, promote and distribute the creative work of drummer, composer Francisco Mora Catlett.
“LIKE THE MOST ELEGANT HAND-TOOLED WALNUT DASHBOARD ON THE FLIGHT-DECK OF A SPACE SHUTTLE, IS THE SOUND OF FRANCISCO MORA CATLETT”... Straight No Chaser, London, UK 1999
“TO REDEFINE WHAT PEOPLE THINK IS JAZZ BY DOING MUSIC LIKE FRANCISCO’S ALBUM NOW”... Carl Craig, ALL MUSICZINE 1999,
Real to a variant componential history, Francisco Mora Catlett has merged Jazz Tradition, The Avant-garde, African Mysticism, Caribbean Colors, Mexican Magical Surrealism, Cuban Folklore, and Techno Funk, to formulate what is uniquely a "New Voice in Jazz".
AACE first release, 1987
A result of polished interactive work with artists such as Kenny Cox, Vincent Bowens and Rodney Whitaker, marked the breaking of ground for future creations.