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The Seeker: Melissa Aldana

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Melissa Aldana has been a prominent force in motion since she took first prize in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition just over a decade ago. What she has accomplished since then is a matter of public record, but also the result of much private searching — as an improviser, a composer, a bandleader and a human being. Her captivating new album, Echoes of the Inner Prophet, reflects a noticeable maturity on all fronts, which she describes as an ongoing process. In this revealing conversation, Melissa touches on her path toward a personal sound, which involved “a very deep crisis of identity.” She also shares insights about the gift of a working band, the complex play of musical influence, and the power of sound to change perceptions.

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Greg Bryant has been a longtime curator of improvisational music as a broadcaster, writer, host and musician. As a young child, he began absorbing the artistry of Miles Davis, Les McCann, Jimmy Smith, James Brown, Ornette Coleman, Weather Report, and Jimi Hendrix via his parent's record collection. He was so moved by what he was experiencing that he took pride in relaying all of his discoveries with anyone who would listen.
Nate Chinen has been writing about music for more than 25 years. He spent a dozen of them working as a critic for The New York Times, and helmed a long-running column for JazzTimes. As Editorial Director at WRTI, he oversees a range of classical and jazz coverage, and contributes regularly to NPR.