Melissa Aldana – Echoes of the Inner Prophet For Wayne Shorter (ENG review)

Blue Note – Street Date April 5th 2024
Melissa Aldana

Composer and saxophonist, here is the second album of this very great artist who once again offers us a complex work of very high level, although it is a jazz album, the inspirations of so-called “classical” music are numerous, mainly on the part concerning the piano. An album that is, of course, aimed at an informed audience, which is truly brilliant. This deeply intimate and introspective project is a celebration of collaboration and community. It documents the evolution of her quintet – Lage Lund, guitar and effects; Fabian Almazan, piano and effects; Pablo Menares, bass; Kush Abadey, drums – capturing the collective insight they have gained after many tours and travels, and affirming their place among the most incisive working groups in jazz today.

The album also deepens Melissa Aldana’s unique symbiotic relationship with Lund, who serves as arranger and co-producer, and with whom she shares the rare “confidence and openness”. Furthermore, Echoes Of The Inner Prophet features two touching dedications to figures who made Aldana’s musical life possible.

Of course, the title of this album is a direct homage to Wayne Shorter, who would certainly not feel betrayed to find himself on a work of this overall quality. Shorter had participated in the jury of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition that Aldana won in 2013. At the time, she had been based in New York for a few years after moving from her native Chile via Berklee, where she had studied on a full scholarship encouraged by Shorter’s pianist, Danilo Pérez. The Monk victory launched her ascent and quickly established her as one of the most respected and important new voices in jazz.

From my point of view, there are many comparisons that can be made between Shorter’s compositions and Aldana’s, indeed there is this very high level of demand in the compositions, which are the same in the arrangements, this kind of musician always pushes their art very far. “Growing up,” she begins, “I think I can feel in tune with his music and his playing in a way that maybe I couldn’t when I was younger.” For Aldana, this means absorbing Shorter’s lessons on “the use of space, storytelling, how to communicate, how to paint.”

“When I think of Wayne,” she adds, “I think of colors.” Rightly so, the piece “Echoes Of The Inner Prophet” is an impressionistic wash of changing nuances, a sonic poem given a swirling and transcendent electronic climax. For Aldana, this evokes “being in the middle of the ocean in the darkness of night – and then you see a whale appear and you hear that deep note hit.”

Melissa Aldana is one of those saxophonists who impress with the quality of their composition and their performances just like Céline Bonacina or Lakecia Benjamin, who make most of their albums “Indispensable”.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, April 2nd 2024

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To buy this album


Melissa Aldana: tenor saxophone
Lage Lund: guitar & effects
Fabian Almazan: piano & effects
Pablo Menares: bass
Kush Abadey: drums

Produced by Melissa Aldana & Lage Lund

Feb. 22 – Brigham Young University-Idaho – Rexburg, ID
March 2 – Wortham Theater Center – Houston, TX
March 21 – Collin County College – Plano, TX
March 29 – Betty Andrews Recital Hall – Edmonton, Canada
April 2 – University of Chicago – Chicago, IL
April 5 – Jazz Showcase – Chicago, IL
April 9 – Dizzy’s Club @ Jazz At Lincoln Center – New York, NY
April 10 – Dizzy’s Club @ Jazz At Lincoln Center – New York, NY
April 19 – Wichita Art Museum – Wichita, KS
April 25 – Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts – Orlando, FL
April 28 – Chez L’Amour – Saint Augustine, FL