Melissa Aldana Quintet: Visions for Frida Kahlo

Melissa Aldana

April 5, 2020 | 3:00PM
Logan Center Performance Hall

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Visions for Frida Kahlo

By the time she won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone competition in 2013, Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana had already developed a reputation as masterful player and composer with sure footing in the jazz tradition yet an eye trained on future of the music. It’s only appropriate, then, that boundary-breaking Aldana – who carries the distinction as the first female instrumentalist and first South American to win the Monk Competition – comes from a long line of exceptional saxophonists; Melissa’s first teacher was her father, Marcos Aldana, and she still performs on the tenor saxophone that she inherited from her grandfather, Enrique Aldana.

Aldana’s latest album, Visions, pays tribute to a different artistic hero – groundbreaking Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Since her early years, Aldana has viewed music and visual art as two sides of the same coin, and she absorbed the florid vocabulary of Kahlo’s works the same way she learned the language of jazz – through imitation. As Aldana’s fascination with Kahlo’s art deepened, so too did her appreciation of the artist’s worldview. “Frida to me is an artist that embraces who she is through her art,” Aldana says. “She talks about ugliness, beauty, being a female, religion, politics, love affairs, sexuality and accepting herself as an individual.”

Visions, is not only an homage to Kahlo’s artistic legacy, but also a reflection how the artist’s life has shaped has Aldana’s own approach to her music and her heritage. “This my first direct contribution that connects my work to the legacy of Latina artists who have come before me and helped create a pathway for my own expression,” said Aldana. “My hope is that this contribution is my first of many that will continue advancing that legacy.” Aldana brings those Visions in a six-part multimedia suite as a stunning addition to the 2019/20 Jazz at the Logan Series.

Supported in part by the Reva and David Logan Foundation.