As a musician, Francisco Sales enjoys adventure – though it may not seem, that’s not a very common trait in musicians! The author of two albums widely acclaimed by connoisseurs, Valediction and Miles Away, the guitarist is currently preparing his third solo record – a project he says is helping him re-discover his artistry. “I feel like I am trying to find myself again, but in a different way… If you think about it, that’s what all great artists have done. It’s easy to understand why Joni Mitchell or Miles Davis, to name two, have always had such different moments in their careers. What we create comes out of our experiences, and that’s what attracts me in art.”
Living, in fact, is what Francisco Sales has done most. Jazz is his language – one he found in the jam sessions he discovered at Porto’s ESMAE, and then took further at the Lisbon College of Music, where he graduated. And then he decided to put into practice what he read in all books and learnt from his teachers: with very little money in his pocket, and a very basic knowledge of English, off he went to London. “I often saw the Mezzo cable channel and all I could dream of was to be able to play in those jazz festivals some day!”
That’s the spirit of adventure that led him to get to know Jean-Paul Maunick, aka “Bluey”, the leader of the mythical acid-jazz combo Incognito. Francisco met João Caetano, a percussionist who played with the band, helped him on his first solo record as a singer, and entered Maunick’s studio and stage line-up. Playing guitar with Incognito all over the world opened a whole other universe. “With Incognito, we play everywhere but we also tour as a support band for other acts: that’s how we toured with soul diva Chaka Khan, DJ Carl Cox, Amp Fiddler, Omar…”
Though he’s too modest to say it, Francisco has played with an elite of sophisticated musicians who have manifested their creativity in the jazz, soul, electronica and funk areas. Experiences that he has been collecting with the eagerness of a musician who wants to make his own way in the world.
“I have returned to Portugal in 2017 and have been living here ever since,” says Francisco. “It’s the country where inspiration comes more naturally, where I like to enjoy life, where I’ve always been the safest and the happiest. England was always for me a career stepping stone; nowadays I still play with Incognito all over the world but live in Portugal.” His focus is now the creation of his own future: “Everytime I come back from my world tours, I start working on my solo career and try to grow as I do it.”
A musician of excellence that is recruited by the most discerning bandleaders around, Francisco Sales’s guitar is an instrument that takes him wherever his imagination leads. And his moment is arriving, with the third chapter of his book about to be revealed…