Born: December 3 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
Saxophonist Melissa Aldana was born in 1988 in Santiago, Chile. At age 7 Melissa began music studies, specifically the saxophone, under her father Marco Aldana’s tutelage. Marcos is one of the first Chilean musicians to attain international recognition, was the first from that country, to participate in the Thelonious Monk Competition and to launch successful tours throughout the Americas and Europe. He is considered one of the most important musicians in Chile today.
No question, Melissa’s love of music has been greatly inspired by her father, but her musical styling and lyricism comes from her own inner understanding of the jazz format. She quickly developed an incredible technique that allowed her to participate in“Bravo Bravissimo”,an international contest where she took first place. She also participated and took first place, in the Miami TV contest “Quiero Ser Una Estrella”, where she competed against other international young musicians.
Melissa Aldana hit the jazz circuit as soon as she was able to, starting with Chile’s jazz scene where she gained tremendous respect from main stay jazz artists, who were impressed by her forthright approach to the music. What was also really impressive was her handling of an instrument traditionally known as a man’s instrument.
Melissa began to attract the attention of Jazz impresarios traveling through Chile. On May 2006 she was invited to perform live with Randy Brecker, and that same year she had an opportunity to meet the great Panamanian jazz pianist, Danilo Perez, who later invited her and her father to perform at the Panama Jazz Festival. And if that wasn’t enough, Perez invited the young musician, to audition for a spot at Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory. Melissa received the Berklee Presidential Scholarship, enabling her to join the student body at the prestigious Berklee College of Music.
She arrived to Boston without much more than a dollar in her pocket, unable to speak English and knowing nothing about the city, but excited about the possibilities. The South American beauty arrived in the dead of winter, a situation completely opposite to what she had left in Chile. However, if she was to perfect her musical skills, she felt being alone in Boston in the winter, was a minor inconvenience that held immense promise.
During her time at Berklee, she studied with the best of the best, Joe Lovano, George Garzone, Frank Tiberi, Greg Osby,Hal Crook, Dave Santoro, Bill Pierce, Dino Govoni, Ralph Peterson, to name a few. She also benefitted from the private master classes under legendary bop saxophonist, George Coleman who guided her progress and helped her sharpen her musicality.
In 2009 she graduated, feeling like the passage through Berklee had pushed the boundaries of her creativity and opened doors and connections, such as the friendship with George Garzone that led her to Jorge Nunez her international executive producer and manager, and to Greg Osby, founder of Inner Circle Music, a label that brings together the best young jazz talent in the U.S., and the label she calls home.
Melissa currently lives in Manhattan and has become a part of the city’s serious jazz scene, performing at the best New York clubs as the Blue Note, Iridium, Lincoln Center, The Kitano, Puppets, Caffe Vivaldi, Fat Cat,Smalls, … she now shares the stage with some of the greatest contemporary jazz artists like -Benny Golson, Greg Osby, George Garzone, George Coleman, Francisco Mela, Antonio Sanchez.
In 2011 Melissa Aldana added recording artist to her growing list of credits, with the release of her first album, “Free Fall.”