Melissa Aldana, born on December 3, 1988, in Santiago, Chile, is a groundbreaking Chilean jazz tenor saxophonist who has made her mark in the international jazz scene with her unique sound, technical prowess, and emotive storytelling through music. As a talented and innovative musician, Aldana has become an inspiring figure for aspiring saxophonists worldwide.
Born into a musical family, Aldana’s passion for music was nurtured from a young age. Her father, Marcos Aldana, was a renowned saxophonist in Chile, while her grandfather, Enrique Aldana, was also an accomplished musician. At the age of six, she began learning the alto saxophone under her father’s guidance. At twelve, she switched to the tenor saxophone, which would become her primary instrument.
In 2005, Aldana moved to Boston to study at the prestigious Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship. During her time at Berklee, she had the opportunity to study with influential jazz musicians, such as George Garzone, Joe Lovano, and Greg Osby. In 2009, she graduated with honors and moved to New York City to further her career as a jazz musician.
Melissa Aldana’s career took a significant leap in 2013 when she became the first female instrumentalist and the first South American to win the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. This milestone not only earned her a recording contract with Concord Jazz but also established her as a rising star in the jazz community.
Aldana’s debut album, “Free Fall” (2010), showcased her distinct sound and exceptional skills as a saxophonist and composer. She has since released several albums, including “Second Cycle” (2012), “Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio” (2014), and “Visions” (2019), each reflecting her growth as an artist and exploring various aspects of her identity and musical influences.
Throughout her career, Melissa Aldana has performed with renowned jazz musicians such as Danilo Pérez, Peter Bernstein, and Francisco Mela. She has also graced the stages of prestigious venues and festivals around the world, including the Blue Note Jazz Club, the Monterey Jazz Festival, and the Newport Jazz Festival.
Aldana’s accomplishments and contributions to the world of jazz have been recognized with numerous accolades, such as the Martin E. Segal Award from Lincoln Center in 2017 and the Jazz Journalists Association’s Up and Coming Musician of the Year in 2019.
Melissa Aldana’s trailblazing journey as a female saxophonist and her dedication to her craft have made her an influential figure in the world of jazz. Her unique sound, emotive storytelling, and exceptional skill continue to inspire audiences and fellow musicians, solidifying her place as a vital voice in contemporary jazz.
Last updated 3/18/2023.