Happy April to you all! As the days lengthen and (gradually) get warmer, and as the trees bud and flowers sprout, we are grateful for the newness that comes with each spring. For us, the season bristles with an energy that could burst forth at any moment, not unlike the moments of stillness and quiet that precede a live performance.
This weekend would have brought UChicago Presents' first concert of the spring with the Melissa Aldana Quintet. Though we aren't able to bring you Aldana's Visions for Frida Kahlo as it deserves to be seen and heard, we hope to still share with you her boundless creativity through her recording of the suite, an exclusive interview with her, and a digital exploration of the life and art of her muse.
Keep reading to learn about the inspiration for Aldana's Visionsproject, listen to her full-length album recording of the suite, and explore the art of its central character, Frida Kahlo. Then, join us next Friday for a live-stream Q&A with Melissa Aldana and members of her quintet.
Listen to Visions for Frida Kahlo
Melissa Aldana, the first woman and first South American to win the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition (2013), is one of just a handful of women on her instrument performing on the most prestigious jazz stages around the world. An avid painter as a child, Aldana would often imitate the style of Frida Kahlo. As an adult, she found found common cause with the preeminent Mexican artist, as a woman in a male-dominated field and as a modern Latin American woman.
These themes are the foundation of Aldana's suite. “Visions features musical interpretations of the cultural repression Kahlo railed against throughout her life," explains Aldana. "That is the same repression I’m confronting, sometimes painfully, as a Chilean woman growing up in a society governed by norms of shame, guilt and silence.”
Listen to Aldana and her quintet (Joel Ross, vibraphone; Sam Harris, piano; Pablo Menares, bass; Kush Abadey, drums) perform Visions for Frida Kahlo for free on Spotify.
Exclusive: Interview with Melissa Aldana
UChicago Presents staff member Landon Hegedus sat down with Monk Competition-winner Melissa Aldana last August at the Chicago Jazz Fest to discuss the origins and inspiration for her project, Visions for Frida Kahlo . Watch the interview above, and read the full transcript for more on Aldana's music and career.
Explore the Life and Art of Frida Kahlo
Though we may not be able to tour the works of one of the most influential female artists in person, Google Arts & Culture allows you to explore her life and art virtually in its " Faces of Frida " digital exhibit. Head over to the online gallery to view more than 800 paintings and artifacts gathered from over 30 collections around the globe. The exhibit also features video and photo essays exploring the artist's life and work.