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Melissa Aldana|12 Stars

12 Stars

Melissa Aldana

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Melissa Aldana's nuanced and superbly executed 2022 album 12 Stars feels like a new beginning for the tenor saxophonist. Though not her first album, 12 Stars is the Chilean-born improviser's debut for the storied Blue Note label. The 2013 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition winner, Aldana has spent much of the last five years earning accolades, including picking up her first Grammy nomination for her 2019 album Visions. Named after the 12 stars pictured on the crown of the tarot card figure The Empress, 12 Stars builds upon that success, showcasing Aldana's growing maturity as both a soloist and bandleader. Helping Aldana achieve this balance is Norwegian guitarist Lage Lund, who produced the album and collaborated with her on the songs and arrangements. Joining them is pianist Sullivan Fortner (who has distinguished himself as a member of vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant's Grammy-winning albums), drummer Kush Abadey, and longtime Aldana bandmate bassist Pablo Menares. Aldana and Lund are a magical team, often playing melodies in tandem. On the opening "Falling," Lund bathes Aldana in sparkling, otherworldly drones, her warm shooting-star sax refracting off the hull of his alien spaceship guitar. More evocative feelings arise throughout 12 Stars, as on "Emilia," in which Aldana dreams of her future daughter against Fortner's warm Rhodes keyboard bed. Equally hypnotic is "The Bluest Eye," a rippling, modal-sounding piece inspired by the Toni Morrison novel. There's a warm, cocoon-like quality to Aldana's compositions as she envelops herself and her audience in shimmering tonal cascades. She's also mutable, with a tone that's water pure one minute before rising to a high-pitched squelch the next, à la Wayne Shorter, as on the dreamy, tango-inflected "Intuition." Even on the vibrantly propulsive "Los Ojos de Chile," an anthem inspired by the 2019 political turmoil and protests in Chile, Aldana plays with an easy warmth that belies just how athletic and harmonically adept her improvisational skills are. With 12 Stars, Aldana puts all of her colorful sonic and emotional textures on display.

© Matt Collar /TiVo

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12 Stars

Melissa Aldana

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1
Falling
00:06:21

JAMES FARBER, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Mark Wilder, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - David Stoller, StudioPersonnel, Recording Second Engineer - Lage Lund, Producer, Guitar, Sound Effects, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Sullivan Fortner, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kush Abadey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Pablo Menares, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Melissa Aldana, Producer, Tenor Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Ian Sefchick, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Robin Tomchin, Producer, Associate Producer - Steven Sacco, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Henry McCall, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 UMG Recordings, Inc.

2
Intuition
00:07:30

JAMES FARBER, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Mark Wilder, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - David Stoller, StudioPersonnel, Recording Second Engineer - Lage Lund, Producer, Guitar, Sound Effects, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Sullivan Fortner, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kush Abadey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Pablo Menares, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Melissa Aldana, Producer, Tenor Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Ian Sefchick, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Robin Tomchin, Producer, Associate Producer - Steven Sacco, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Henry McCall, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 UMG Recordings, Inc.

3
Intro To Emilia
00:00:38

JAMES FARBER, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Mark Wilder, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - David Stoller, StudioPersonnel, Recording Second Engineer - Lage Lund, Producer, Guitar, Sound Effects, AssociatedPerformer - Sullivan Fortner, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kush Abadey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Pablo Menares, Bass, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Melissa Aldana, Producer, Tenor Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Ian Sefchick, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Robin Tomchin, Producer, Associate Producer - Steven Sacco, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Henry McCall, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 UMG Recordings, Inc.

4
Emilia
00:07:35

Don Was, Producer, Executive Producer - JAMES FARBER, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Mark Wilder, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - David Stoller, StudioPersonnel, Recording Second Engineer - Lage Lund, Producer, Guitar, Sound Effects, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Sullivan Fortner, Rhodes , AssociatedPerformer - Kush Abadey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Pablo Menares, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Melissa Aldana, Producer, Tenor Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Ian Sefchick, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Robin Tomchin, Producer, Associate Producer - Steven Sacco, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Henry McCall, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Indigo Lund, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2022 UMG Recordings, Inc.

5
The Bluest Eye
00:07:22

JAMES FARBER, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Mark Wilder, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - David Stoller, StudioPersonnel, Recording Second Engineer - Lage Lund, Producer, Guitar, Sound Effects, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Sullivan Fortner, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kush Abadey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Pablo Menares, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Melissa Aldana, Producer, Tenor Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Ian Sefchick, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Robin Tomchin, Producer, Associate Producer - Steven Sacco, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Henry McCall, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 UMG Recordings, Inc.

6
The Fool
00:06:50

JAMES FARBER, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Mark Wilder, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - David Stoller, StudioPersonnel, Recording Second Engineer - Lage Lund, Producer, Guitar, Sound Effects, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Sullivan Fortner, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kush Abadey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Pablo Menares, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Melissa Aldana, Producer, Tenor Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Ian Sefchick, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Robin Tomchin, Producer, Associate Producer - Steven Sacco, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Henry McCall, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 UMG Recordings, Inc.

7
Los Ojos de Chile
00:05:41

JAMES FARBER, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Mark Wilder, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - David Stoller, StudioPersonnel, Recording Second Engineer - Lage Lund, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Sound Effects, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Sullivan Fortner, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kush Abadey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Pablo Menares, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Melissa Aldana, Producer, Arranger, Tenor Saxophone, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Ian Sefchick, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Robin Tomchin, Producer, Associate Producer - Steven Sacco, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Henry McCall, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 UMG Recordings, Inc.

8
12 Stars
00:02:59

JAMES FARBER, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Mark Wilder, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - David Stoller, StudioPersonnel, Recording Second Engineer - Lage Lund, Producer, Guitar, Sound Effects, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Sullivan Fortner, Rhodes , AssociatedPerformer - Kush Abadey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Pablo Menares, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Melissa Aldana, Producer, Tenor Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Ian Sefchick, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Robin Tomchin, Producer, Associate Producer - Steven Sacco, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Henry McCall, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 UMG Recordings, Inc.

Album review

Melissa Aldana's nuanced and superbly executed 2022 album 12 Stars feels like a new beginning for the tenor saxophonist. Though not her first album, 12 Stars is the Chilean-born improviser's debut for the storied Blue Note label. The 2013 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition winner, Aldana has spent much of the last five years earning accolades, including picking up her first Grammy nomination for her 2019 album Visions. Named after the 12 stars pictured on the crown of the tarot card figure The Empress, 12 Stars builds upon that success, showcasing Aldana's growing maturity as both a soloist and bandleader. Helping Aldana achieve this balance is Norwegian guitarist Lage Lund, who produced the album and collaborated with her on the songs and arrangements. Joining them is pianist Sullivan Fortner (who has distinguished himself as a member of vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant's Grammy-winning albums), drummer Kush Abadey, and longtime Aldana bandmate bassist Pablo Menares. Aldana and Lund are a magical team, often playing melodies in tandem. On the opening "Falling," Lund bathes Aldana in sparkling, otherworldly drones, her warm shooting-star sax refracting off the hull of his alien spaceship guitar. More evocative feelings arise throughout 12 Stars, as on "Emilia," in which Aldana dreams of her future daughter against Fortner's warm Rhodes keyboard bed. Equally hypnotic is "The Bluest Eye," a rippling, modal-sounding piece inspired by the Toni Morrison novel. There's a warm, cocoon-like quality to Aldana's compositions as she envelops herself and her audience in shimmering tonal cascades. She's also mutable, with a tone that's water pure one minute before rising to a high-pitched squelch the next, à la Wayne Shorter, as on the dreamy, tango-inflected "Intuition." Even on the vibrantly propulsive "Los Ojos de Chile," an anthem inspired by the 2019 political turmoil and protests in Chile, Aldana plays with an easy warmth that belies just how athletic and harmonically adept her improvisational skills are. With 12 Stars, Aldana puts all of her colorful sonic and emotional textures on display.

© Matt Collar /TiVo

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