Festival Best Bet: Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio


TD Ottawa Jazz Festival Programmer Petr Cancura Recalls Their First Meeting

Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio is probably the festival’s best kept secret this year! A young tenor saxophonist from Chile, Melissa lives in New York, and is a familiar face at most of the city’s late night jam sessions. Melissa is the first woman to win the most recent Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition’s saxophone competition—arguably the most prestigious jazz competition of them all. 

If that’s not enough, here is a little story for you:

About nine years ago, I was taking lessons with Danilo Perez as part of my masters degree in jazz at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts. One day, I came in for my lesson and Danilo asked if I wouldn’t mind that a young student sat in on our lesson (Danilo has a big presence in his native Panama and would occasionally bring up young musicians to Boston). 

In the corner was a girl in her early teens with a tenor saxophone that seemed at least as big as her. Danilo asked if we wanted to play a tune and so we did. I took the first solo and did not push too hard, thinking this young student was trying to keep up with us. She took a solo after me and just tore it up… I am talking jaw-dropping! 

She finished her solo and I had to have another go right after that, and this time I did not hold back. At this point Danilo stopped, laughing really hard. Then he said, “You didn’t think she could play like that did you?” We all laughed, played a few more tunes and had a fantastic time.

That girl was Melissa Aldana! Check out her music here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYfhUH-9gbI

You don’t want to miss her trio June 30 at the Fourth Stage at 7 pm. Ticket info here: https://ottawajazzfestival.com/artists/melissa-aldana-crash-trio/