Melissa Aldana Leads Berklee Student Quintet on Tour

May 1, 2019
Press release
Melissa Aldana (center) leads a Berklee student group in the latest Berklee’s Masters on the Road series.
Image by Kelly Davidson

Chilean saxophonist and composer Melissa Aldana B.M. '09 is featured in the latest Berklee’s Masters on the Road series, in which master musicians return to teach and lead touring ensembles. The group will perform at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston (May 16), the Side Door in Old Lyme, Connecticut (May 18), South Jazz Kitchen in Philadelphia (May 19), and Dizzy's Club at the Lincoln Center in New York (May 20).

Aldana's quintet features students Timothy Benjamin Johnson (guitar), Hatsune Hirakura (piano), Charles Lincoln (bass), and Christian Napoleon (drums). The Berklee students, selected by audition, have worked on Aldana’s repertoire throughout the semester in a course taught by faculty member Neal Smith.

Still in her 20s, Aldana has had a remarkably rapid evolution from 6-year-old saxophone prodigy to what NPR described as a “bold new talent.” She is widely considered one of the most compelling tenor saxophonists on the scene.

As a child, Aldana studied with her father, renowned saxophonist Marcos Aldana. In 2007, she moved to Boston to enroll at Berklee College of Music, coming under the mentorship of George Garzone. In 2013, she became the first female instrumentalist and the first South American to win the Thelonious Monk Competition. She also is a recipient of the Martin E. Segal Award from Lincoln Center and a double recipient of the Altazor Award, Chile’s prestigious national arts prize.

Aldana has released four recordings as a leader, most recently Back Home.

Watch Aldana and Crash Trio perform “You’re My Everything”: