Jazz saxophonist Melissa Aldana is set to release her first record for Concord Music Group on June 17, 2014. (International release dates may vary) The self-titled album Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio is the first recording of the three band mates together - Aldana, bassist Pablo Menares and drummer Francisco Mela. Recorded at Sear Sound Recording Studio in New York, the album consists of originals written by all three band members and includes two covers - the Harry Warren classic “You’re My Everything” and Thelonious Monk’s “Ask Me Now.”
Speaking on this new album Aldana says, "Pablo Menares & Francisco Mela both help bring a unique perspective to playing in the saxophone trio format. Our approach is very much coming from the core of the Jazz Tradition, not least from contemporary musicians such as Kurt Rosenwinkel & Mark Turner, but with Mela being from Cuba and Pablo and I both from Chile, there is no question there is a flavor of that as well.”
In September 2013, Melissa became the first female instrumentalist and first South American ever to win the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. Judges for the competition included Jane Ira Bloom, Branford Marsalis, Jimmy Heath, Wayne Shorter and Bobby Watson. In addition to a scholarship to the Monk Institute, Melissa won a recording contract with Concord Music Group.
Born in 1988, Aldana began to play the saxophone as soon as she was able. She was taught by her father Marcos Aldana, who was also a renowned jazz saxophonist and sought out teacher in their hometown of Santiago, Chile. By age 13, Melissa was frequenting the jazz clubs in Santiago with her father and by 16 was headlining the Club de Jazz de Santiago, which, at the time, was the center of the Chilean jazz community. In 2005, with help from Panamanian jazz pianist Danilo Pérez, she procured auditions at the Berklee School of Music and the New England Conservatory. She was accepted into both and chose to attend Berklee, from which she graduated in 2009.
After graduating, Melissa immediately moved to New York. With the help of mentor, the legendary George Coleman, and former teacher Greg Osby, among many others, Melissa recorded two albums Free Fall (2010) and Second Cycle (2012) for Osby’s Inner Circle Music label, and quickly became a vital part of the New York jazz scene. She has since performed in such prestigious venues as the Blue Note, Lincoln Center and Smalls. After a 2013 performance at the Jazz Gallery, The New York Times touted, “…she moved toward a kind of music (including ‘First Cycle,’ from her new record) that really felt like the current moment in jazz…Ms. Aldana worked over short motifs, using the full range of her instrument, articulating long and fast lines. But she also condensed her phrases into great wipes of sound up and down the horn, and clamped into the rhythm…She wasn’t just exhibiting her own voice but embodying it…”
Pablo Menares is one of the most important bass players in Chile. His bass playing is considered to be elegant, musical and lyric, while firmly rooted in swing and polyrhythmic concepts. Menares has performed and/or recorded with all the leading jazz musicians in Chile and has also performed at major jazz festivals all over South America. Since moving to New York City in 2009 he has become a sought after bass player for both Jazz and Latin music. He has performed in many of NYC's most notable jazz clubs including Lincoln Center, Jazz Gallery, Smoke, Smalls Jazz Club, Fat Cat, 55 Bar and world famous venue Carnegie Hall. He has performed with such jazz luminaries as Sam Yahel, Arturo O’Farrill, Randy Brecker, Aaron Goldberg, Greg Hutchinson, Claudia Acuña, among others; and has toured throughout North America, becoming an increasingly important presence in the jazz and Latin music scene.
Francisco Mela is a favorite among jazz’s elite instrumentalist, including Joe Lovano, Kenny Barron and McCoy Tuner, all of whom cite his charisma, sophistication and life-affirming spirit as an extension of his incredible talents as a composer and drummer. Born in 1968 in Bayamo, Cuba, Mela moved to Boston in 2000 to pursue a degree from Berklee College of Music. Since then, he’s made quite a name for himself by becoming an integral part of Joe Lovano’s quartet, joining McCoy Tyner’s trio and developing himself as a band leader. Mela has released three albums, all receiving compelling critical acclaim. His latest project, Cuban Safari, is an amalgamation of his favorite bands that inspired him to become a drummer – Miles Davis’ fusion group featuring Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett, Weather Report, and the Latin- jazz super group Irakere.