Melissa Aldana at the Mainstay Friday, Sept. 15


Melissa Aldana

The acclaimed Chilean tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldan brings her quartet to The Mainstay in Rock Hall, on Friday September 15 at 8 p.m. Admission is $22 if purchased in advance and $25 at the door.

This engagement of Melissa Aldana is funded through the Mid Atlantic Tours program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Melissa Aldana is an acclaimed tenor saxophonist who is a native of Santiago Chile but is now based in New York. 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).

Her first instrument was alto sax but after hearing the landmark Sonny Rollins recording,  + 4  at the age of 12, she switched to tenor and never looked back. In a recent interview with Jon Solomon at Westwords, the Denver arts and culture publication, she said of Rollins, “I just heard a deep voice, a human voice when I heard him. And something clicked in me. I was like, ‘Yeah, this is my voice. This is what I’m really hearing.’ It just deeply connected to that. Sonny had one of the greatest sounds, but then it kind of changed my whole perspective about what sound means. Sound is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about a great musician. So it was like I heard his sound and heard his soul, pretty much. I was so young, so I couldn’t — it’s more related to the feeling more than understanding what he was doing.”

In 2007, she received the Berklee Presidential Scholarship and moved to the US to study improvisation and composition with George Garzone and others at Berklee and to pursue jazz at a higher level.

After graduating on 2009, she moved to New York City where she resides. She has become a fixture on the city’s jazz scene, performing with her own quartet and as a “sideman” at the best New York clubs and concert halls like, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Village Vanguard, The Blue Note, Iridium, Smalls, Jazz Gallery and  Birdland. She will be headlining at Birdland a few days before her Mainstay date.

Aldana has also played in international jazz festivals like the Montreal Jazz Festival, Panama Jazz Festival, Festival Jazzuv Mexico and Festival de Jazz de Madrid, Spain.

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.

The New York Times called her most recent recording, the explorative and deeply swinging, Back Home, “a supremely focused statement.” The intricacies and unpredictability of her solos, as well as the subtlety of her interactions with her collaborators, make for fascinating listening. The closer you listen, the deeper the reward.

Joining Aldana are Sam Harris on piano, Pablo Menares on bass and Jimmy Mcbride on drums.

The Mainstay (Home of Musical Magic) is committed to presenting local, regional and national level talent, at a reasonable price, in an almost perfect acoustic setting. Wine, beer, sodas and snacks are available at the bar.

The Mainstay sells advance tickets online through Instant Seats. Information and advance ticket sales are available on the Mainstay’s website. Follow the Buy Tickets link to buy tickets at the advance price. If you would rather pay at the door, you can make a reservation by calling 410-639-9133 and pay by cash or check at the door.

Upcoming Mainstay performances include:


September 18 Joe Holt welcomes Paul Midiri and Mike McShane

September 23 John Rimel and Mike Proutt

September 25 Joe Holt welcomes Van Albert

September 30 Michel Nirenberg Quartet

Write a Letter to the Editor on this Article

We encourage readers to offer their point of view on this article by submitting the following form. Editing is sometimes necessary and is done at the discretion of the editorial staff.