Melissa Aldana: Living a Second Cycle
AAJ: You have achieved a considerable attention on the international jazz scene, and we can't ignore that that's not usual, being a woman. How many doors were opened and how many were closed because of that?
MA: I think it has sometimes been opening more doors more easily. At the end of the day, I think that the most important thing is to be a strong musician, because that is what really matters, to come up with something unique. But being a woman, even if I don't like to exploit it, I definitely think that it has been a good way to perhaps open some doors and bring people's attention to my work. I think it has been a positive more than a negative.
AAJ: How does it feel to play at New York's the Village Vanguard, being just 22 years old?
MA: It was a really amazing experience, because I knew that it was big deal to play thereanx the fact that I was playing there with [drummer[ Kendrick Scott, Greg Osby and all those important musicians...it meant a lot to me. I learned a lot from being with those wonderful people. More than anything, I feel really blessed to to have lived something so important at such a young age.
AAJ: Greg Osby is one of your mentors.
MA: He was one of my main teachers in Boston. He is one of the people that really taught me how to think, how to make the right decisions. He was a really nice guy from the first time we met. He has been very supportive, he helped me record my first album, and now he helped me record the second. He trusts me, and it has been an amazing experience to know him and to be his friend/
AAJ: And what about George Coleman?
MA: He was like the first person that I met in New York. I used to hang out a lot with a famous instrument repairmanhis name is Emilio Lyonsand I knew that they were friends, so before coming to New York I asked Emilio, "Can you ask George if he teaches private lessons?" So Emilio gave him a call and he made me play some solos over the phone. He liked them, so when I arrived to New York I went to his place. So nice, he really liked my playing and believed in me, so he started to give me free lessons. And I started hanging out with him. i also had the huge honor to play with him. I feel really lucky to be able to be close to such a legend, such an important artist. He has definitely been one of my main influences of the past three years.
AAJ: It looks like you are starting to walk on your own with Second Cycle, so will you going next?
MA: I wanna record two albums next year. One would be a record with some older guys in New York, like a jazz standards album, with some arrangements. And then another one, with the same band from my latest record, but with a pianist as well. We'll see what happens. I have many ideas and different projects. I have just started a new trio with Francisco Mela and Pablo Menares, and I think this is gonna be one of my main projects this next year, too. I want to keep my mind busy and keep my motivation strong.
Melissa Aldana, Second Cycle (Inner Circle Music, 2012)
Melissa Aldana, Free Fall (Inner Circle Music, 2010)