Melissa was born in Santiago, Chile, and exposed to music under the tutelage of her father, Marcos Aldana, who helped her hone her skills as a saxophonist and improviser. A meeting with the pianist Danilo Perez in 2006 led to an audition at Berklee College of Music, where Melissa received the Presidential Scholarship.
Arriving in Boston with very little money and without the ability to speak English, Melissa persevered, seeking out the guidance of the saxophonists George Coleman, George Garzone, and Joe Lovano, among several others. During her time in Boston, she also forged a relationship with Osby, who invited her to record for his label, Inner Circle Music.
The resulting album, Free Fall, features Melissa “swing[ing] confidently and solo[ing] with verve” (Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes) alongside the pianist Michael Palma, the bassist Lyles West, and the drummer Ralph Peterson, Jr. Stream the title track below:
Since moving to New York in 2009, Melissa has performed with Osby, Garzone, and Coleman, as well as Benny Golson, Francisco Mela, and Antonio Sanchez. On Thursday, we will present Melissa and her quartet as part of our debut series. The lineup will feature the trumpeter Gordon Au, the bassist Joseph Lepore, and the drummer Colin Stranahan, all of whom have been regular members of Melissa’s group for the past two years. The band will perform some of the material from Free Fall, a few of Gordon’s compositions, and some brand new music that Melissa hopes to record later this year.