Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist Melissa Aldana Brings Her Purposeful Trio Sound to Harlem
Tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana leads what you could call two thirds of her Crash Trio with Pablo Menares on bass and Jochen Rueckert taking over the drum chair for Francisco Mela, Friday and Saturday night, May 22-23 at Minton’s uptown with sets at 7:30 and 9:30 PM. As is generally the case here, your best bet is to grab a seat at the bar, considerably cheaper – $25 – than at the tables, which will probably be full anyway since the place is a big weekend hangout. If you’ve followed jazz lately, Aldana has been riding a mighty wave of buzz in the wake of some prominent competition victories. A cynic might argue that’s what you have to do if you’re a woman of Chilean extraction trying to make your mark in a field dominated by American men – notwithstanding that she represents a three-generation legacy of prestigious Chilean saxophonists.
Aldana has smoke in her tone and often pushes the upper limits of her axe’s register, no surprise considering that she began her career as a teenage altoist. Although she can fire off febrile Sonny Rollins-inflected blasts of bop when she’s in the mood, more often than not her music is considered and spacious, and the band follows suit. In a trio setting, Menares gets plenty of room to color the music and solo, something Rueckert will fit in well with here. Her most recent trio album, from last year, is on the contemplative side, a mix of melodic, swinging postbop, a small handful of balmy ballads and a couple of detours into south-of-the-border and Brazilian sounds. However, this gig will no doubt feature a lot of new material from Aldana’s forthcoming second Crash Trio album, due out next month. One suspects she’s going to pick up the pace since this place is earning a reputation as a very high-energy room.
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