“Back Home” reviews

back_home_01Melissa Aldana’s new Wommusic release “Back Home” was released on March 11, 2016 and has so far received a heap of praise from near and far. The very first review from none other than the New York Times called the album “a supremely focused statement” & “unburdened by legacy” here & the major Danish newspaper Politiken praises the album for it’s “rich and nuanced musical communication” (read it in Danish here).

Here are some other reviews and articles about Melissa:

April 13, 2016: Billboard Magazine – album review ->> here

March 30: WBGO – live interview ->> here

March 24: The Jazz Owl – album review ->> here

March 23: Lucid Culture – album review ->> here

March 23: Dr. Jazz – album review ->> here

March 21: ZealNYC – album review ->> here

March 14: Westword – interview/profile ->> here

March 12: Shanley On Music – album review ->> here

March 11: The Big City Blog – album review ->> here

March 11: The Ottawa Citizen – album review ->> here

March 11: Burning Ambulance – Melissa Aldana interviews Sonny Rollins ->> here

You can purchase “Back Home” here:


iTunes (download – digital booklet included)

It is also available for streaming at:

Apple Music


Please let us know how you feel about the music – and thanks for listening!

New Melissa album “Back Home”

melllisa_phsWommusic will release an all-new Melissa Aldana album on March 11, 2016. The album features her trio w. Pablo Menares on bass and Jochen Rueckert on drums, as well as 8 originals (by all band members) + 1 standard.

Here follows the bio for the album:

Rising tenor saxophone star releases her second trio album (and fourth as a leader), unveiling powerful music by herself and her illustrious bandmates.

Acclaimed tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana follows up her 2014 Concord release Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio with the explorative and deeply swinging Back Home, this time released on the Wommusic label. Pablo Menares, Aldana’s fellow native of Santiago, Chile, is again on bass. On drums is the in- demand Jochen Rueckert, bringing a supple and unpredictable rhythmic élan to the session. These three musicians turn on a dime and project an uncommonly full orchestral sound, rich in spiritual intensity, all in the absence of a harmony instrument.

The title Back Home might seem to evoke Chile, where Aldana left in 2007 to pursue jazz at ever higher levels in the U.S. In fact, Aldana reveals, Back Home “is not really related to Chile itself. It’s related to the first time I picked up the tenor and I heard Sonny Rollins.” The closing title track carries strong echoes of Rollins’ playful spirit, and reveals much about Aldana’s evolution from a 6-year-old alto player to “a bold newtalent” (NPR), one of the most compelling and prodigious tenor saxophonists of her time. In fact she wrote “Back Home” specifically for Rollins, she recalls: “He was one of the first reasons I started playing trio, because the freedom that you have within the music, the interaction, the opportunity you have to express yourself and communicate with the other musicians.”

As a child Aldana studied with her renowned saxophonist father Marcos Aldana (son of saxophonist Enrique Aldana, whose Selmer Mark VI tenor Melissa performs with to this day). She began on alto but after hearing the landmark Sonny Rollins + 4 she switched to tenor and never looked back. Other important influences she cites range from Don Byas, Gene Ammons and Lucky Thompson to Chris Potter and Mark Turner.

In 2007 Aldana moved to Boston to enroll at Berklee, coming under the mentorship of tenor great George Garzone. Pianist Danilo Pérez and saxophonist Patricia Zarate provided Aldana with crucial support and guidance as well. In 2009 she took the plunge to New York and began apprenticing with greats such as Greg Osby and George Coleman, among others. In 2013 she became the first female instrumentalist and the first South American ever to win the Thelonious Monk Competition. She is also a recipient of the Martin E. Segal Award from Jazz at Lincoln Center and a double recipient of the Altazor Award, Chile’s highly prestigious national arts prize.

In 2014 after two quartet releases for Osby’s Inner Circle label (Free Fall and Second Cycle), she turned her attention to the chordless trio, a jazz aesthetic Sonny Rollins did so much to pioneer. With Back Home she deepens her trio investigations while looking back on her roots, drawing as well from the original compositions of Menares and Rueckert.

“Jochen and Pablo are both great writers and I love the taste they have for music,” Aldana says. “Even though I’m the bandleader and I bring a lot of the music, I love to play the music of the people that I’m playing with, and I love for everyone to feel involved. I think of the band more as a collective, and it’s refreshing for me to play their music.”

Aldana’s choice of the classic Weill/Gershwin ballad “My Ship” is also rooted in home: “It’s one of the first ballads that I heard with my dad,” she says. “I wanted to record it because it brings back memories of me and my dad learning music. The way that my dad rehearsed, the way that he practiced — that’s all a part of who I am right now.” On previous dates Aldana has recorded “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “You’re My Everything” and Thelonious Monk’s “Ask Me Now.” “Initially all those tunes are related to some period of my life — it might be where I heard the tune for the first time, or the things I was going through. The songs all have meanings related to my experience.”

The album leads off with the brisk, colorful “Alegría,” one of four Aldana originals. “I started working on that tune when I was hearing Wayne Shorter’s Native Dancer album. This was right after I won the Monk Competition, and when I won the first thing I did was buy a piano. So the piano arrived and I was hearing this. ‘Alegría’ means ‘joy’ and that was the feeling I was trying to recreate, thinking, ‘How can I express joy in my own way?’ That’s why the tune is more upbeat. It’s meant to be a lot of things going on at the same time.”

Aldana wrote “Before You” for her boyfriend during time spent apart. “He left for a while and I was on tour all over, and we met up in Vienna after a month and a half. Then we met up again soon in Montreal.” She likens the hip, dancing feel of the piece to flamenco, up to a point. “It’s not exactly the flamenco rhythm but I was thinking about castanets, and then Jochen added his own thing to it.”

“Time,” opening in a rubato vein, is Aldana’s meditation on her life since departing Chile. “I was thinking wow, it’s been almost nine years, a lot has happened — good moments, bad moments, I’ve met a lot of people. I was very emotional, it was rainy and there was a change of seasons, and I came up with that tune out of nostalgia, thinking of my life up until now.”

The first of Pablo Menares’ two entries, “Desde La Lluvia” (“from the rain”), is rooted in midtempo 3/4 swing, with a calm, lyrical melody that prompts spirited soloing from the leader on tenor. The second by Menares, “En Otro Lugar,” opens with a beautiful unaccompanied bass intro and moves into a gentle straight-eighth feel. Jochen Rueckert’s “Obstacles” finds the trio at its fastest, moving between a restrained “two” feel and straightahead walking swing, with a complex repeating rhythmic figure (an obstacle, perhaps?) tying the two sections together. Rueckert’s “Servant” is a slower swing vehicle not unlike “Desde La Lluvia” but quite different compositionally: the tune’s initial agitated vamp returns at points to break up the swing and keep the trio on its toes.

Back Home was recorded at Sear Sound on June 6+7, 2015. It was engineered (tracked and mixed) by James Farber and mastered by Greg Calbi, two of the top recording engineers in the world. Unlike the Crash Trio album, this time Aldana and the trio played together in the same room instead of using separation. The end result is a more intimate, full-bodied sound, with exceptional clarity, expanse and color.

As the trio charts new terrain and evolves in its musical identity, Aldana remarks, “I do feel that there’s continuity from the last album but perhaps some added maturity. We were working and touring a lot, performing one day at large outdoor stages like the Playboy Jazz Festival in LA, then the next at intimate clubs like Smalls in New York, and I’m trying to bring in all the experience and things that I learned these past two years. I went to many really different places, hanging out with the guys, rehearsing back in New York, composing new music. I feel on this album there’s a more mature band sound that’s starting to emerge.”

Fall dates 2015

Melissa has just finished a fabulous week of shows! These included a very special Jazz & Blues Foundation tribute to her original inspiration for playing tenorsax – Sonny Rollins – held at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, NYC. Melissa even got to meet Sonny for the first time + he knew of her and her playing, which was of course a huge honor for her!

During the event she shared the stage with dozens of Sonny’s lifelong associates and musical family such as Bob Cranshaw (Sonny’s bassist since the 60ties), Clifton Anderson (Sonny’s nephew and trombonist who put it all together with drummer/producer Steve Jordan), Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, James Carter, Al Foster, Henry Grimes, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Garrett, Donald Fagen (from Steely Dan), Randy Brecker and many others. A wonderful tribute that finished off with Sonny telling the audience that the Apollo was “my university” when he was young. A touching moment for a true giant. To finish it all off Keith Richards (from the Rolling Stones) performed a burning set!

Then a few days later Melissa had her own trio performance at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola (inside Jazz at Lincoln Center in NYC) with Pablo Menares on bass and Allan Mednard on drums (& pianist Glenn Zaleski sitting in on some tunes), and the following day she sat in with Jimmy Heath’s band (featuring Al Foster no less!) at the wonderful Village Vanguard (also in NYC – they finish tomorrow so go hear them if you can).

Melissa Aldana is now back in Europe for some November shows. She’s bringing Pablo Menares on bass and Jochen Rueckert on drums, both of whom are also featured on an all-new Melissa album which will be released on our Wommusic label in early 2016. The album features new originals by all 3 band members as well as a standard. For the Bern dates Melissa will additionally feature pianist Emmet Cohen.

Here are the upcoming European dates:

Nov. 3: Widder Bar, Zurich, Switzerland
Nov. 4: Barcelona Jazz Festival, Barcelona, Spain
Nov. 6: Masterclass at Berklee College of Music, Valencia, Spain
Nov. 10-14: Marians, Bern, Switzerland
Nov. 20: Pizza Express/London Jazz Festival, London, UK

Melissa also has a couple of US dates left this year before she takes a deserved break traveing back to her home country of Chile for the holidays:

December 5: Da Camera, Houston, Texas
Dec. 10: Smalls Jazz Club, New York City

In early 2016 Melissa brings her trio to the Carolinas for the first time:

January 22: Carolina Performing Arts, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

And also a tour of Northern Sweden in late January 2016 – find more info on all those dates by clicking here. Pablo Menares and drummer Allan Mednard will perform with Melissa in North Carolina and Sweden. There are quite a few other dates already in the calendar which we will tell you about in our next mailing.

Thank for your attention & hope to see you at one of these events!

Melissa back in Europe

MAldana_IMG_0949Melissa Aldana is on her way back to Europe for some April shows, including in several cities she is visiting for her first time. This time she’s bringing Pablo Menares on bass and Allan Mednard on drums (Allan has also been touring with Kurt Rosenwinkel‘s New Quartet recently).

Click links to view more info on each date:

April 17+18Duc des Lombards, Paris, France
April 19Jazzhouse, Copenhagen, Denmark
April 20Masterclass at Kunglige Musikhöjskolen, Stockholm, Sweden
April 20: Fasching, Stockholm, Sweden
April 22Viktoria/Nasjonalscenen, Oslo, Norway
April 24Nefertiti, Gothenburg, Sweden
April 27Masterclass at Skurups Folkhöjskole, Malmø, Sweden
April 28A-Trane, Berlin, Germany

If you want to listen to/purchase  Melissa’s latest album “Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio” then you can do by clicking here – the band will perform repertoire from this album as well as several new pieces.

Melissa, Pablo and Allan hope to see you and if you go then please send a photo from the show on twitter tagging @MelissaAldana & @Wommusic 🙂

Thank you!

Melissa on Twitter
KPLU-FM article: “
A lot of firsts for Melissa Aldana

Opening night: Melissa Aldana @ Minton’s Harlem!

MAldana_IMG_1018bMelissa Aldana’s 2014 was a hectic year full of firsts. She led her Crash Trio – also featuring Pablo Menares (b) & Francisco Mela (dr) – on extensive tours for the first time, performing at legendary festivals like Monterey Jazz Festival and festivals & venues in places like Copenhagen, Paris, Marciac (France), Vienna (Austria), Umbria (Italy). You can watch a video we took of a part of their performance at Monterey Jazz Festival on Sept. 19 by clicking here.

2015 looks to be no less exciting with many shows already on the concert calendar. And we are really excited about the first shows coming up in 2015: Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio will be performing at legendary Minton’s Harlem on January 9+10.

Minton’s is the club on 118th street in Harlem, NY where bebop was basically born. Legendary for the jam sessions hosted by Thelonious Monk, Kenny Clarke, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and other bebop geniuses, Minton’s is forever part of jazz most central folklore. It laid dormant for years after a fire shut it down in 1974, and was rumored at one point to have been purchased by Robert De Niro, but nothing came of it all until it was suddenly reopened in late 2013 by one Mr. Richard Parsons. They have spared no expense in turning Minton’s into a classy venue, with beautiful woodpaneling & wallpaintings, giving it a real feel of the golden age of the Harlem Renaissance.

And Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio is, in our opinion, a perfect 21st century representation and illustration of what the bebopers put in motion back in the 1940ties. Melissa – a 26 year old woman from Santiago, Chile – is a real child of that school. She grew up on bebop, her father Marcos Aldana – himself a highly esteemed saxophonist – teaching her the art of transcribing Charlie Parker solos from she was 6 years old. Today her playing reveal deep influences from people like Sonny Rollins, Don Byas, Joe Henderson & Mark Turner. One of the most impressive aspects of her performances is her ballad playing, which showcases her beautiful woodwind tone & her musical patience and maturity perfectly. But she can also rip on a uptempo piece & play the blues, as the above video illustrates amply.

If you are in NYC then please stop by Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio’s shows at Minton’s on January 9+10. Melissa’s latest album is entitled “Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio” & was released by Concord Records on June 24, 2014.

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