Interview with Francisco Mela

by Rebecca Vega

Francisco Jose Mela was born in Bayamo Cuba and went to go study at the Music School of Arts El Yarey during his teenage years and later went to attend the National School of Arts for Teachers, el CENCEA. During the earlier days he was able to teach with well-known Latin Jazz musicians in the country. He was able to tour with his band MelaSon Latin Jazz Band through Mexico. He came to study in Boston at the Berklee College of Music. This is when he was able to be part of the percussion faculty which is what he is known for playing today. He has five albums: Melao (2006), Cirio: Live At The Blue Note (2008), Fe (2010) featured in Mother Earth (2010), and M.P.T. Trio Volume 1 (2021).


When did you first begin to take an interest in music and what did you feel?

I started playing music when I was young, around the age of 9 or 10. I began to take it seriously and study at the age of 17. The more I studied the more I understood it and it made me feel that there was not anything more important than music, it became my greatest passion.

Who is your musical role model?

Well, my musical role model at the time was a teacher in the school I attended, his name was Osmani Sanchez, he is a great drummer. Once I heard him play, I fell in love with the instrument. The skill and professionalism in which he played awoke my interest and since then I still play the drums to this day. Truthfully, I’ve never felt anything more special than when I played it for the first time.

What is your most memorable experience you have had with music?

My most memorable experience was when I was finally able to play the drums with a group in all their songs from beginning to end. It was the most pleasant feeling.

What is your favorite song and what is your favorite song you have composed?

I do not have a favorite song, but I do love to play Jazz. And from what I have composed, since I am constantly composing the ones I have already made sound old to me, so I like what I am making at the time and then I will come to like the next thing I create.

What do you wish to pass on to the next generations music wise?

What I would like to pass on to the next generation is that the most important thing in the world of music is first, to be humble because it is easy to become prideful. Second, practice a lot to always be prepared. Third, learn to be flexible and always know when to listen to others.