12 Stars

12 Stars

12 Stars, the sixth album from formidable tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, is her first for Blue Note. It’s also the first to document a fruitful collaboration with Norwegian-born guitarist Lage Lund, who produced 12 Stars and cowrote the entire album with Aldana. The music is deeply informed by the harmonies and textures of Lund’s guitar and “gizmos,” at times sonically reminiscent of his 2019 album, Terrible Animals. Aldana, however, is the virtuosic focal point of 12 Stars as she mixes it up with a band featuring Lund with mainstay bassist and fellow Chilean Pablo Menares, pianist Sullivan Fortner, and drummer Kush Abadey. (The cover art, like that of Visions, is by the acclaimed vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant.) Complex unison parts, bristling tempos and transitions, rich tone colors, smoking solos, and an utterly bewitching ballad for a closing track—it’s work befitting one of the leading jazz artists of our time.

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