Melissa Aldana Trio Member Picks Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Thu., May 5, 8 & 10 p.m., Fri., May 6, 8 & 10 p.m., Sat., May 7, 8 & 10 p.m. and Sun., May 8, 4, 8 & 10 p.m. 2016

The title track from Back Home (Wommusic), the latest album by Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana, has nothing to do with her longing for the confines of her native Santiago. Instead, the tune pays homage to another biographical signpost: brilliant tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins and the sound of his great 50s trios, to which her own versatile trio is indebted. The original tune’s rollicking groove and intimate sound hark back to Sonny’s classic 1957 California sojourn Way Out West (Contemporary), particularly his interplay with drummer Shelly Manne. For Back Home drummer Jochen Rueckert joins mainstay bassist Pablo Menares to bring a greater sense of propulsion as well as an irresistible buoyancy (both also contribute their own pithy compositions to the album). Simply put, “Back Home” swings like a motherfucker. While Aldana’s playing throughout contains hints of Rollins’s influence, the record is far and away her most assured and forceful effort without any sacrifice of her lithe mobility or lightness of touch. She regularly pushes her lovely, sere tone into the alto range—recalling the tonal command of masters like Joe Lovano and Mark Turner—but maintains an elegant, unfussy directness. The trio delivers the kind of simple charms that remind me why I got into jazz in the first place.

Peter Margasak

Price: $20-$35

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