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Melissa Aldana Wins 2013 Monk Sax Comp

Chilean tenor player tops fierce international competition

Among colleagues and admirers, Wayne Shorter accepts a lifetime achievement award at the 2013 Thelonious Monk International All-Star Gala Concert
Melissa Aldana accepts first place at the 2013 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition
The finalists embrace at the 2013 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition: Godwin Louis (third place), Melissa Aldana (first) and Tivon Pennicott (second), from left
The judges of the 2013 Thelonious Monk sax competition (clockwise from top left): Branford Marsalis, Bobby Watson, Wayne Shorter, Jimmy Heath and Jane Ira Bloom
Melissa Aldana

The semi-finals of the 2013 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, held on Sunday in an auditorium at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in D.C., were so impressive they were actually disheartening. They made you think about the current state of things-about how the industry isn’t big enough for all this talent, but it should be.

Each of the 13 hopefuls performed a 15-minute program of his or her choosing, and each performed with the assets you should require from a saxophonist when you plunk down a $30 club cover charge. Intonation, by and large, hit the bull’s-eye and then split the arrow; phrasing displayed such flawless execution and focused attention to form that you hardly saw room for improvement; tones were hearty or lithe but always substantial. If technique is jazz’s end game, then the current jazz-ed system is clearly doing its job.

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