Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead identifies outstanding, emerging jazz artist-composers in their mid-teens to age twenty-five, and brings them together under the tutelage of experienced artist-instructors who coach and counsel them, helping to polish their performance, composing, and arranging skills.
Grammy-nominated saxophonist and composer Melissa Aldana has garnered international recognition for her visionary work as a band leader, as well as her deeply meditative interpretation of language and vocabulary. Aldana was born in Santiago, Chile and grew up in a musical family. She signed with Blue Note Records and released her debut album with the historic label titled 12 Stars in 2022. “Melissa Aldana is one of the foremost musician/composers of her generation,” says Blue Note President Don Was.
Aldana was one of the founding members of ARTEMIS, the all-star collective that released their debut album ARTEMIS on Blue Note. The album featured Aldana’s simmering composition Frida, which was dedicated to Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, who inspired the musician through “her own process of finding self-identity through art.”
Kahlo was also the subject of Aldana’s celebrated 2019 album Visions (Motéma), which earned the saxophonist her first-ever Grammy nomination for Best Improvised Jazz Solo, an acknowledgement of her impressive tenor solo on her composition Elsewhere. In naming Visions among the best albums of 2019 for NPR Music critic Nate Chinen wrote that Aldana “has the elusive ability to balance technical achievement against a rich emotional palette.”