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***Before any instrumentation, Francisco Mela addresses his fellow musicians, pianist Matthew Shipp and bassist William Parker, with a sense of anticipation and affirmation, “Okay guys, ready? Rolling!” The sense of camaraderie and his artist-focused approach is heard throughout the album’s majestic improvisation—as well as in its inspiration, dedicated to Mela’s longtime musical partner, the legendary jazz musician McCoy Tyner. Tyner was well-known for his boundless musical talent, and perhaps best-known for playing in John Coltrane’s quartet, which revolutionized the jazz world and reverberated through the music world at large. But it was his mentorship that truly touched Francico Mela: Tyner encouraged him to explore the boundaries of both his personal expression and his musical ability, affirming the philosophical conviction that music was a gateway to liberation. That pursuit of freedom was a lifelong aspiration, and one borne from community. Mela recalls performing at New York City’s Blue Note with McCoy Tyner, on a specific night when maestro Cecil Taylor came to listen to McCoy’s trio. Tyner and Taylor shared a conversation, and afterwards Tyner returned backstage, gently confiding in Mela, “I wish I were that free. We play music to free our souls.” Likewise, Tyner encouraged Mela to pursue his broadening interests, inspiring Francisco to embrace experimentation and musical freedom. In Music Frees Our Souls Vol. 1, Mela, Shipp and Parker compose an album that is equally innovative and welcoming, offering the best of experimental jazz and paying homage to McCoy Tyner’s indelible creative influence. This is the first chapter of Francisco Mela’s Music Frees Our Souls trilogy dedicated to McCoy, always featuring William Parker on bass but with different piano players on each volume.