The Checkout – Live at Berklee Kicks Off with First Female Instrumentalist to Win Monk Award

Liz Lupton
September 20, 2013
Press release
Melissa Aldana '09
Photo courtesy of the artist

The Checkout – Live at Berklee, which brings critically acclaimed, New York City-based alumni back to their alma mater for intimate concerts in the Red Room at Cafe 939, begins its 2013-14 season on Wednesday, October 9 with saxophonist Melissa Aldana ‘09, the first female instrumentalist to win first prize in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. The Berklee graduate won the prestigious honor on September 16, 2013. Aldana will perform with her Crash Trio featuring bassist Pablo Menares with drummer, Berklee graduate, and former Berklee faculty member Francisco Mela. The Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition is in its 26th year and focuses on a different instrument annually; the institute’s previous saxophone competition was in 2008.

Presented by NPR Music and WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM, the shows will be webcast live worldwide in HD video over and on the radio in New York over WBGO-FM as a special edition of The Checkout, the acclaimed multimedia show featuring what’s new on New York’s jazz scene. They will also be archived and available for on-demand listening at and

Concerts and broadcasts will begin at 8:00 p.m. ET. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 with a Berklee ID and area available at or by calling 617 747-2261. The Red Room at Cafe 939 is located at 939 Boylston Street in Boston and is wheelchair accessible.

Aldana began her musical studies under the tutelage of her father, Marco Aldana, one of the first Chilean musicians to attain international recognition. After establishing herself within the vibrant Chilean jazz scene, Aldana attracted the attention of jazz impresarios who visited the area, and in 2006, she met Danilo Pérez, who asked Aldana and her father to perform at the Panama Jazz Festival and urged her to audition for Berklee. Aldana received a full Presidential Scholarship to attend Berklee where she studied with the likes of Joe Lovano, Greg Osby, Ralph Peterson, George Coleman and more. After graduating in 2009, Aldana moved to New York, where she performs at notable clubs like the Blue Note, Iridium, Lincoln Center, and Jazz Gallery. She released her debut album, Free Fall, in 2010, and her second album, Second Cycle, followed in 2012.

The Checkout – Live at Berklee continues on December 11, 2013 with Patrick Cornelius and Friends; on January 29, 2014 with the Guillermo Klein Quintet and the Berklee Ensemble; on March 5, 2014 with Warren Wolf & Wolfpack; and on April 2, 2014 with the Matthew Stevens Quartet.


WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM serves the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area with mainstream jazz, blues, and award-winning news and public affairs programming. Non-commercial WBGO is supported by nearly 17,000 annual members and has over 400,000 weekly broadcast listeners. WBGO also streams its broadcast signal to audiences worldwide at WBGO was named the “Jazz Station of the Year” by the Gavin Report and is also the recipient of the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive Award” for Achievement in Non-Commercial Radio. WBGO is a publicly-supported, cultural institution that champions jazz, an American art form, and presents news to a worldwide audience through radio, other technologies, and events.


NPR Music celebrates great music in every genre and is an industry leader in music discovery. The free, multimedia Web site ( offers 300 new features monthly and an extensive archive, in collaboration with NPR’s newsmagazines, 12 public radio member stations, and the passionate NPR community. NPR Music creates and distributes inventive music coverage across multiple platforms—from web, to radio, to podcast, to mobile, to social media, to live events—with first listens of new albums, live performances, concerts at the Tiny Desk, interviews, reviews, and blogs.

Listen to Melissa Aldana's "Free Fall" on the Sounds of Berklee podcast.

Liz Lupton is a publicist in the Office of Media Relations. Media inquiries: