Francisco Mora-Catlett’s career spans decades, genres and astral realms, perpetually defined by the quest for survival and being free. The Mexican-American percussionist, composer, and producer makes his solo debut on Carl Craig’s renowned Planet E Communications today with his first electronic music album, Electric Worlds.
Whether pushing the limits of free jazz with the Sun Ra Arkestra in the 70’s, studying at Berklee College of Music and touring with Max Roach in the 80’s, or playing in Carl Craig’s “The Innerzone Orchestra” in the 90’s, Francisco’s passion has always been for the capacity that the music created by black and brown people has to free the human spirit.
Such was the topic of conversation during late night listening sessions between Francisco and Carl after being introduced by Francisco’s daughter in 1993. Francisco told Carl about the experience of African American artists pioneering electronic music as far back as the 50’s with Sun Ra’s experimentation with the first rhythm machine and electric pianos from Robert Moog. It was this mentorship that spawned Carl’s interest in jazz, inspiring him to release seminal records in the genre on Planet E like 4 Jazz Funk Classics and Sound on Sound under his alias 69, The Detroit Experiment with Carl, Marcus Belgrave, Geri Allen, and many others.
Electric Worlds sees the mentor become the mentee, with Francisco returning to Berklee College of Music amidst lockdowns to study electronic music production with the support of Carl along the way. The result is something that feels of many worlds, reinforced by the polish of contemporary production yet coated in the knowledge of ancient culture that is fundamental to the way Francisco writes and understands music. It is this quest that leaves him constantly answering; who am I, what am I, what is the Universe.
This ethos materializes into a sprawling experimental effort, from the Carl Craig dedicated ‘C2 (313)’ and Max Roach ode ‘Boom MX’, to ‘Open Window Into Outer Space’ and ‘Electric Worlds’ written on a nine tone temperament system otherwise unexplored in modern music. Francisco’s deep focus on history materializes on the wildly droning ‘Tenere Sahara’, a track that represents the colonial symbolism of the world’s once most isolated tree, a place of pilgrimage uprooted by an intoxicated visitor.
Hooked on electronic music since his first formal introduction in Mexico City in 1968, Francisco is honored to have the opportunity to continue his exploration of its infinite soundscapes and historical context beyond Electric Worlds. It is his ultimate hope that the record can continue his lifelong mission of opening the experience of sound slightly more with every project and paying tribute to those he has learned from, a modest goal from one of modern composition’s most acclaimed pioneers.