Melissa Aldana makes Blue Note debut with 12 Stars

Tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana is set to make her Blue Note debut with a new album called 12 Stars, coming March 4.

Hailing from Santiago, Chile, and now based in Brooklyn, the Grammy-nominated musician has established herself internationally with her work as a bandleader, composer and instrumentalist.

On 12 Stars, the Melissa Aldana Quintet features keyboardist Sullivan Fortner, bassist Pablo Menares, drummer Kush Abadey and guitarist Lage Lund, who also handled production for the project.

“This is a really important album for me,” says Aldana. “I felt like I had so much to say because of all the experiences I had during 2020. After the personal process I went through, I feel more connected to myself and my own imperfections — and I’ve discovered that it’s the same process with music. Embracing everything I hear, everything I play — even mistakes — is more meaningful than perfection.”

12 Stars features seven new compositions by Aldana, with many of the pieces co-written or arranged by Lund. This includes the opening tune Falling, which highlights the nuanced harmonic interactions between both musicians. You can listen to that track right now.

12 Stars represents a period of turbulent change for Aldana, exploring themes of familial forgiveness, child rearing, acceptance and self-love. Drawing influence from tarot readings, the album’s title is named after the 12 stars that adorn the Empress card’s crown. “In numerology and tarot, the Empress is a symbol of creation,” Aldana explains. “She represents my essence as an individual, and this entire journey.”

The process of introspection and imagery in tarot readings also finds its way into the music she has written and performed for the new album.

“For some time, I had been very curious about tarot — the symbols, and the actual story of the tradition,” she says. “So, I took the lockdown as an opportunity to learn more about myself through the process of learning tarot, whose focus is the journey of an individual. As I studied the cards, I started writing music about each of them, individually. And I found that the process described on the tarot is a process that we all deal with somehow throughout our journey here on earth.”

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Here’s the track listing:

  1. Falling
  2. Intuition
  3. Intro to Emilia
  4. Emilia
  5. The Bluest Eye
  6. The Fool
  7. Los Ojos de Chile
  8. 12 Stars

Melissa Aldana’s 12 Stars will be released March 4, 2022, via Blue Note.