The NTR Journal 

NTR = Noticias en Tiempo Real (Real Time News)
Editor: Pablo Garabito
Design: Luis Alfredo Dominguez
Sunday, August 18, 2019 SECTION B

  • BOOK YOU ARE READING RIGHT NOW: “The practice of practice” by Johnathan Harnum
  • FAVORITE PIECE: Chutzpan
  • IDEAL PLACE TO PERFORM: "Of course... The Telmex Auditorium!" (In Guadalajara, MX)

The musician from Guadalajara, based in Oakland, United States, since 2011, believes in mobility as one of the great factors of artistic growth.

The traveling spirit of music


Marlon Aldana played for the first time at the Telmex Auditorium in the company of Cosa Nostra, an ensemble born within the Jazz Mafia organization in Oakland, California, as an accompaniment to the dancers Lil Buck and Jon Boogz, in the latest edition of “Awakenings” (Original performance name “Despertares”).

For this man from Guadalajara with an adventurous spirit, that experience was a return to his roots, and an opportunity to face his countrymen and his family after several years of absence from his hometown.

NTR: How did you start in music?

Marlon Aldana (MA). My most vivid childhood memories are of my mother singing and muttering Beatles songs as she walked up and down the house. Even though no one in my family decided to be a musician, there was always music around me. I remember sneaking in to steal cassettes from my father… Pink Floyd, Creedence and The Doors were my first direct experiences with music, especially with my instrument: percussion. I remember being very young, maybe 7 or 8 years old, hearing the sound of the drums on these albums for the first time and wondering “what is this noise, it’s so interesting, so powerful, so free, so full, what is this? Whatever it is, I want to do that!” Finally at 13 years of age is when, after waiting and waiting, I received my first drum set, which would take me to where I am now.

NTR: When did you go to Oakland and how has this change of city and country been? 

MA: In 2011, on a bike tour carrying all our gear, instruments, and personal stuff with a group called The Ginger Ninjas, I found myself at a festival in Northern California where I met a woman on the last day of the tour who made me reconsider my life in Mexico. After a time of coming and going, I quit my job as an architect and musician in Guadalajara and decided to leave everything to move. This is where my life in America begins. The change was very drastic, living outside the country where you were born and raised, speaking another language, eating other food, being away from friends and family is very difficult. It is another way of life. You breathe a very different air. In 2013, after living in a very small town for a while and without much to do or play, I decided to go to the nearest city: Oakland, California. This is where I meet a huge community of incredibly talented musicians and this is where I fully immersed myself in music. Oakland reminds me a lot of Guadalajara, I think I landed here for a reason. It is an incredibly artistic and diverse place, the Latin community is very present. Even though I’m not in Mexico, I feel at home being here.

NTR: Tell us about the work in the Jazz Mafia?

MA: Within this great community of artists and musicians with whom I surround myself, who inspire and support me unconditionally, is the Jazz Mafia, an unusual group of musicians, always seeking to innovate and be better every day. One day I received a call from Adam Theis, the leader of the group, his percussionist was not available for one of his shows and was looking for a substitute. We put together the schedules and all the details and I would be the one playing that night in San Francisco. After that experience where what we mostly did was improvise, experiment and connect with each other, the band and I would continue to be in contact and friendship to this day.

In the end, no matter where you are, the musical family is so small that we all end up getting to know each other and it has happened to me many times that the person you least expect is the one who calls you, this is exactly what happened to me with the Jazz Mafia.

NTR: Do you consider it essential for a musician to change cities to achieve greater growth?

MA: Definitely. I firmly believe that going out and discovering other cultures, other ways of life, other languages, other landscapes, other people, other styles, another air is strongly reflected in our musicality, even in how we think and express ideas and perceptions of our own existence. I have no doubt about this. I keep checking day after day how being in another city or country has modified and expanded my way of feeling art and life.

Beyond the pain caused by the distance with my family and with Mexico or the political and social situation in which we find ourselves in the United States, I feel very fortunate that life has brought me here.

The amount of knowledge that I have acquired thanks to being in this country has been essential for my musical growth. It is essential for every musician to discover, not only the world or the people around us, but also to discover and experience other musical genres. The ones that can be known the most, listen, investigate, share, discover… I think this is how we really create our own voice and our own style with a particular sound stamp. In this way we are able to tell a story of each experience and each time we dared to experience something new or unknown.

NTR: You were part of “Awakenings” accompanying Jon Boogz and Lil Buck, first how did this collaboration come about and then what did you think of the show in general?

MA: It’s funny how life takes you to different places and sometimes back to your roots

unintentionally or unintentionally. This opportunity to collaborate and be part of Awakenings came to me as a very pleasant surprise. Adam Theis and Shaina Evoniuk (Jazz Mafia: Cosa Nostra Strings), without knowing that I am originally from Guadalajara, offered me to be part of this project and I accepted without hesitation. My experience collaborating with dance is very special, this made collaborating with Boogz and Buck an even deeper experience. Explaining a little about my past and relationship, shortly after moving to Oakland, I was offered to be part of a flamenco dance company, and that is where for four years I fully immersed myself in discovering and learning this artistic expression, which little by little it would show me how different it is from my previous experiences and knowledge. The connection that can be made between a musician and a dancer is incredibly powerful and unique.

The only two rehearsals we had with Jon Boogz and Lil Buck demonstrate the artistic quality that was found in that audience. From the first rehearsal, we knew it would be a very special, powerful and moving number. The way these dancers express themselves is unique and reflects their dedication and love for their art.

NTR: What are your projects? 

MA: One of the most important immediate projects is to obtain my degree as a musician and continue with projects in which I find myself today developing myself, creating new paths and rediscovering my origins. Growing up in Mexico, Caribbean music was always around me. Among the many styles through which I navigated, Afro-Cuban music was always present and had a very special place in me. My mentor and friend Samuel Romero always oriented me towards Latin jazz and it is to this day that I am rediscovering the importance it has for me and how much it satisfies me, its complexity and intrinsicity challenges me and makes me fall in love with it more every day. My goal is to continue collaborating with artists who have been present in my life and who inspire me and push me to improve every day.

As an artist, one of my most desired goals is to create, compose and develop my creativity to the fullest. I have several things in mind, but they are just random ideas, rhythms, melodies and dreams that I know will gradually land and materialize.

Memories. For Marlon Aldana, his most vivid childhood memories are of his mother singing Beatles songs while she hung around the house.

Magazine: Smart Money

Article, July 2012


(Please Note “NINI” is a nickname that people get in Mexico when they don’t work nor study “NI estudia, NI trabaja” = “Nor studies, Nor works”)

Having fun like crazy in the summer is a good strategy to find your way later. See how they did it.

By Robert Moran

Yes, yes, Mexico is full of ninis, young people who neither study nor work. After a while we’ll tell you about the figures, which are something to worry about, and about all the things that the government, society and companies have to do to prevent the problem from continuing to grow and becoming a catastrophe. But before you use the figures as a pretext to spend your afternoons on Facebook -after all, you won’t find a job-, take a look at these strategies to avoid falling into the ranks of the ninis, which can be followed by those who start from a step a little higher higher than the majority of the Mexican population: that is, most likely you, your children or your nephews.

Marlon Aldana, a 24-year-old architect and drummer, left his routine in Guadalajara to join a group of Californian musicians that promotes the use of bicycles. His girlfriend, Paula, invited him to see the documentary about the group and there he met the members, he was encouraged to do a casting and a week later he was riding a special cargo bike, with his battery in tow, on a tour of the state of Morelos. Being encouraged to leave his activities in Guadalajara for a month allowed him to interact with more people and, at that time, play in a concert in Mexico City, in support of the Wirikuta area of ​​the Sierra Tarahumara, on the same stage as stars like Julieta Venegas. and Eli Guerra.

Photo caption:

Coming out of architecture school, Marlon Aldana found some white-collar jobs, but after six months he found that wasn’t what he was passionate about. “I decided to work on my own. even though it was more difficult… I was given the opportunity to work for a friend and I took the challenge.” He combined architecture with working as a musician at night in bars. This allows you to find new adventures and build networks of acquaintances.

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