WBGO Blog
  • Melissa Aldana: The Crash Trio's Jazz en Español

    October 9, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Chilean tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana makes "jazz en español" with The Crash Trio, her group with Chilean bassist Pablo Menares and Cuban drummer Francisco Mela. The group performed live for a WBGO broadcast from the Berklee College of Music's Cafe 939 on Wednesday, October 9.

    "Our way of relating with one another - our body language, and our jokes - are different," says Aldana, who won the 2013 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. "Latin Americans are very heartfelt, open, and tactile; that's what we're like, and it's a big part of what keeps the group together."

    Aldana visited the WBGO studios ahead of this broadcast and spoke with Tim Wilkins - en español - about jazz in Chile, her early experiences in music and the group.

    aldana1

    The daughter and grandaughter of jazz saxophonists, Aldana grew up in a house filled with music in Santiago, Chile, where she blew her first notes on an alto sax at age six.

    She moved to Boston in 2006 to accept a Presidential Scholarship at Berklee. Mela was teaching there at the time, and Menares joined the group after she moved to New York in 2009.

    While jazz legends like Wayne Shorter and Don Byas rank high on Aldana's list of influences, she also highlights Chilean folk musicians like Violeta Parra and Victor Jara, and even "chinchineros" -  the musicians who play drums and dance for spare change on the streets of Chile.

    "In downtown Santiago, it's very common to see chinchineros with drums on their back, as they play Andean rhythms while they spin around," says Aldana. "Pablo (Menares) wrote a song for The Crash Trio that incorporates these rhythms; that's one of the ways we're trying to bring these influences in to jazz."

    For more of The Crash Trio, check back for archived audio from WBGO's broadcast of the group, and review the chat below from during the show. Enjoy!

  • WBGO Congratulates Monk Prize Winner Melissa Aldana

    September 19, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    WBGO congratulates Melissa Aldana, the 2013 winner of the Thelonious Monk Institute's International Jazz Competition. A 24-year-old tenor saxophonist from Santiago, Chile, Aldana is the first woman and first South American to win the competition in its 26-year history.

    WBGO will feature Aldana's group, The Crash Trio with Pablo Menares on bass and Francisco Mela on drums, in a live broadcast and webcast from Boston at the Berklee College of Music's Cafe 939 on October 9 at 8 p.m., the first in our fall series of live concerts from Berklee.

    Can't wait? Aldana visited the WBGO studios in 2008, when she was a twenty-year-old member of Berklee's Blue Note Ensemble, and performed live in our Studio B as part of our annual in-studio festival of student ensembles for Jazz Appreciation Month every April.

    Click here to hear Melissa's chat on that occasion with Midday Jazz host Rhonda Hamilton, in which she describes picking up an alto saxophone at age six to accompany her father, saxophonist Marcos Aldana:

    Click here to hear Melissa perform with the Blue Note ensemble:

    Congratulations Melissa, and see you in Boston on October 9!

    Paul Morigi/Getty Images for the Thelonious Monk Institute
    Paul Morigi/Getty Images for the Thelonious Monk Institute
  • The Checkout Live from Berklee: Walter Smith III

    March 7, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    WBGO presents saxophonist Walter Smith III live from the Red Room at Cafe 939 at the Berklee College of Music in Boston on Thursday, March 7 at 8 p.m.

    The Checkout – Live at Berklee brings critically acclaimed, New York-based Berklee alumni back to their alma mater for concerts. Smith will be joined in the concert by fellow Berklee alumnus Matt Stevens on guitar, bassist Harish Raghavan, Taylor Eigsti on piano, and Clarence Penn on drums.

    Watch the concert live right here or listen to our on-air stream with host Josh Jackson, and join the conversation below.

    Like WBGO's other live broadcasts every month, these shows live on in our video archive and at NPRmusic.org.

    If you like what you hear, tune in to WBGO's sister station, The Jazz Bee, to hear recordings by Smith, his bandmates and other cutting-edge performers. Enjoy!