Saxophonist Melissa Aldana was born on December 3rd, 1988 in Santiago, Chile, and began her musical studies at age 6 – specifically the Saxophone – under her father Marco Aldana’s tutelage – one of the first Chilean musicians to attain international recognition. He is considered one of the most important musicians in Chile today, so it was only natural that his daughter would want to follow in his footsteps.
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 later participated in and took first place in the Miami TV contest “Quiero Ser Una Estrella”, where she competed against other young musicians from around the world.
Melissa Aldana hit the jazz circuit as soon as she was able to, starting with appearances in Chille, establishing herself within the vibrant jazz scene there. It paid off, she gained tremendous respect from mainstay jazz artists, who were impressed by her forthright approach to the music and her technical mastery of an instrument traditionally known as a man’s instrument.
Melissa began to attract the attention of Jazz impresarios who traveled 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 would invited both Melissa and her father to perform at the Panama Jazz Festival. And if that wasn’t enough, Perez invited her to audition for a spot atBerklee 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 in 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 continues to guide her progress and helps her sharpen her musicality.
In 2009 she graduated, feeling like the passage through Berklee had pushed the boundaries of hercreativity and opened doors and connections, such as the friendship with George Garzone and with Greg Osby,
Melissa currently lives in Manhattan and has become a part of the city’s serious jazz scene, performing at the best New York clubs — Blue Note, Iridium, Lincoln Center, Puppets, Caffe Vivaldi, Fat Cat,Smalls, Jazz Gallery … she now shares the stage with some of the greatest contemporary jazz artists like -Benny Golson, Greg Osby, George Garzone, Francisco Mela, Antonio Sanchez.
Melissa Alda added recording artist to her growing list of credits in Nov. 2010, with the release of her first album, Free Fall for Greg Osby’s Inner Circle Music label. On Nov. 22, 2012 she released her 2nd album as a leader entitled “Second Cycle” – also on the Inner Circle Music label.
Lately Melissa has attracted the attention of the New York Times, which has given her recent performance at the Jazz Gallery a great review – which you can read by clicking here – as well as reviewing “Second Cycle” here.