Saxophonist Melissa Aldana leaves an indelible impression of her musicality in Back Home, her fourth release as a leader. She was the first female instrumentalist and first South American to win the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2013. One listen to her tenor's flowing birdsong and the symbiotic connection with longtime trio mates bassist Pablo Menares and drummer Jochen Rueckert it is understood the work she's put in and the gift she possesses.
First there's Aldanas's tonality. A gorgeous throaty tenor filled with nuance and bravura that hints of influences touching on great tenors (Sonny Rollins) and contemporary stylists (Mark Turner). Yet Aldan's voice is her ownsoulful, inquisitive, and deeply rooted in both the past and present; roots which germinated in Santiago, Chile where her father and grandfather were prominent musicians. These disciplines are extended in the Aldana's exquisite phrasing and expressive fluidity in the glorious opener "Alegria."
Next is the trio communication where the musicians operate on a telepathic level while implementing independent codes of expression. The unit has gelled into tight consistency powered by Menares's muscular bass fingerings and Rueckert peppered drums in rhythm-speak that covers robust swing in "Obstacles" or a blues swagger in "Servant #2."
The trio format exposes the truths about musicians. This one is flawless. With original tracks written by each player and an emotive cover of the Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin classic "My Ship" Back Home exudes a timeless quality which fully marks Aldana's presence as a first class jazz artist.
Alegria; Desde La Lluvia; Obstacles; En Otro Lugar; My Ship; Servant #2; Before You Go; Time; Back Home.
Melissa Aldana: tenor saxophone; Pablo Menares: bass; Jochen Rueckert: drums.