At 24, Chilean-born tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana seemed to come out of nowhere to win the prestigious, hotly contested 2013 Thelonious Monk Competition. Born in Santiago, Chile she was a teenage standout on the Chilean jazz scene when an encounter with Danilo Perez left the pianist so impressed he recruited her for Berklee College of Music. Focusing on improvisation and composition, she studied with heavyweight saxophonists like Joe Lovano and Greg Osby. But her mentors don’t get all the credit for her rapid rise. Her grandfather was a thriving swing saxophonist in 1950s France, and her father competed in the 1991 Monk Competition that launched Joshua Redman’s career.
DATE: MAR. 14 - 17