…A percussion colourist of great distinction. Clearly also he “hears” music not only from the vantage point of the complex rhythmic patterns that adorn the music of Venezuela… But more significantly and infinitely more attractive is what Mr. Vielma does with the rhythmic patterns in the manner in which he adorns each with melodies and harmonic voices. Here, the percussionist leans heavily on his aptitude for, and particular genius for counterpoint and most of important of all – his understanding of instrumental timbre…” –Raul Da Gama, Latin Jazz Network 2018.
Born in Venezuela, Francisco (Fran) Vielma is a multipercussionist with an extensive knowledge of Caribbean, Venezuelan, and Southamerican rhythms and drums. In addition to being an in demand performer, Fran is also a composer, arranger, and educator. In his compositions, he fuses jazz elements and concert music with the rhythms of his homeland.
He has received multiple awards and honors, and his first album “Inesperado” was part of a catalog for the record label Cacao Music along with productions of international artists such as Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Jose Luis Quintana “Changuito,” Bolivar Soloist, Orlando Poleo, and Negroni’s trio among others.
Fran Vielma’s most recent album Tendencias with his Venezuelan Jazz Collective features some of the most important figures of the jazz scene in the world such as Luis Perdomo, Michael Rodriguez, Miguel Zenón, Ángel Subero, Roberto Koch, and Pablo Bencid. He also leads the Venezuelan Jazz Orchestra, the Hidden Treasure Percussion Trio, and is a producer/teacher of a jazz seminar at The Andes University in his home country.
His versatility as a percussionist, arranger, and orchestrator of different genres from Caribbean and Afro-Venezuelan to Jazz, world, and concert music has involved him in recording projects, tours, and festivals with renowned musicians such as in Venezuela, Mexico, South Korea, United States, Panama, and Australia.
He has taught music seminars, lectures, and master-classes in the US at Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, and Salem State University, in Venezuela at The Andes University and Caracas Jazz Workshop, and most recently at Fundación Danilo Pérez during The Panama Jazz Festival.
Vielma holds a M.M. in Jazz Studies from New England Conservatory, and a B.M. in Performace & Theory of Jazz from Berklee College of Music, two among the top ten best music institutions of the world. He is an adjunct faculty of World Music at Salem State University’s Music Department in MA, which keeps him on continuous research about the musical cultures of the world. He is an active member of César Orozco & Kamarata Jazz, as well as Eguie Castrillo’s Orchestra.
Review quotes from his recent album – Tendencias:
“…It’s not just the rhythmic potency of Venezuelan music that stands out here; indeed, on a number of the tracks it’s Vielma’s indebtedness to the wider jazz tradition that is striking.” Troy Dostert All About Jazz 2018
“The ensemble is not quite hard-bop and not quite salsa-they are something more complex and unprecedented, and take sharp turns at times.” Phillip Freeman Downbeat Magazine 2018
“…a superb recording with an excellent band, superior compositions and superb soloing.” Ron Weinstock, Jazz and Blues Report 2018
“One can’t help but marvel how magically effective this is especially as the horns constantly have to be mixed in with the dry and sharp, stabbing aural palette of Mr. Vielma’s Venezuelan percussion – another reason why this is not just another Latin-Jazz album of songs, but true to its title, a whole new set of Tendencias.” – Raul Da Gama, Latin Jazz Network 2018
“Latin jazz of excellent quality: interesting arrangements, inspired and voluble soloists. We can listen without hesitation!”
– Tierry Giard, Culture Jazz Magazine 2018
“A Venezuelan percussionist that knows how to serve up smoking originals and find lots of the best Latin jazz cats in New York… Killer stuff throughout.” – Chris Spector, Midwest Records 2018
“In the spirit of Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Machito, Cachao, Mario Bauzá, Chano Pozo, and Cándido Camero, drummer/composer Fran Vielma joins this lineage alongside such innovators as Danilo Pérez, Paquito D’Rivera, Dafnis Prieto, Giovanni Hidalgo, Pedrito Martínez…Further, Fran builds on this tradition by composing with folkloric rhythms from his native country, Venezuela… The result is an extremely impressive and contemporary presentation of today’s Latin jazz music.”
– Billy Hart
“There are records that are meaningful in the life of an artist, as without a doubt, it is this one by Fran Vielma… In this album, Fran shares all the passion of someone who believes in the music and gets to shape concretely a dream joined by incredible musicians…” – Guillermo Klein
Releases: Fran Vielma and his Venezuelan Jazz Collective. “Tendencias,” Papelón Records, 2018,
Ensamble Nuevas Almas. “Inesperado,” Cacao Music, 2009, Nuevas Almas with Movida Acustica Urbana. “MAU en Vivo,” independent, 2009.
As a sidemen: Fernando Alvarez & Joropo Jam “Típico Ma Non Troppo,” independent, 2018, German Marcano, “Aquí y Allá,” independent, 2018, Cesar Orozco, “No Limits for Tumbao,” ALFI Records, 2015 – Jihee Yoon, “Inflorescence,” Yeolin Music, 2012 – Rafael “Pollo” Brito, “Boleros en vivo,” ANES records, 2012 – German Marcano. “Rochela,” independent, 2011 – Oscar Fanega, “Bass & Percussion,” independent, 2009 – Hugo Fuguet, “Nueve dias,” independent, 2009.
Awards & Honors: 2013-16 New England Conservatory-Scholarship and Merit Award – 2010-13 Berklee College of Music – North American Scholarship – 2012 Berklee College of Music -Outstanding Percussionist – 2012-13 Berklee College of Music-International Student Grant