As we at The Jazz Gallery continue our 27th year of presenting new jazz, it has been nice revisit some of the many Residency Commission projects from over the years. This weekend, saxophonist Melissa Aldana returns to the Gallery stage to present her 2017-18 commission, Visions. The project began as a reflection on the work of visual artist Frida Kahlo, who had been an important inspiration to Aldana since her childhood. In a conversation with Jazz Speaks, Aldana noted:
When I was young, I was really into painting with oil. And I used to do what was very similar to transcribing. I would get a painting that I liked, and I would just start painting to imitate. I never took lessons or anything, but I learned a lot from Frida. These paintings, I grew up with them from when I was very young. I thought that that would be important because oftentimes when I write music, and this is a large project, in the middle I tend to forget the core image—where it’s coming from, where it started from. So, when I got offered the commission, I thought, ‘Okay it’s going to be about Frida Kahlo, it’s going to be this scope and these paintings, and different people that surrounded her life.’ So I wrote it all down on a piece of paper and this is what I had in front of my piano while wrote the suite. That was my reminder. Every time I felt like I lost the core, or the sense of direction, I would go back to that.
The music continued to evolve after its 2018 premiere, resulting in Aldana’s 2019 album of the same name, which you can stream below.
For this weekend’s performance of Visions, Aldana will be mixing up the instrumentation from the record, playing with guitarist Mike Moreno, bassist Pablo Menares, and drummer Kush Abadey. Come check out what new visions these musicians have for Aldana’s compositions.
Melissa Aldana presents Visions at The Jazz Gallery on Friday, October 8, and Saturday, October 9, 2021. The group features Ms. Aldana on tenor saxophone, Mike Moreno on guitar, Pablo Menares on bass, and Kush Abadey on drums. Sets are at 7:30 and 9:30 P.M. E.D.T. each night. $30 general admission ($20 for members), $40 reserved table seating ($25 for members) for each set. The Saturday sets will be livestreamed, $20 for access ($5 for members). Purchase tickets here.