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We humans do love our rituals. When an extended family gathers for the holidays, familiar traditions promise a comforting respite from an increasingly complex, chaotic world. Still, realistically, troubles and fears refuse to be left behind. They surface like unwelcome guests. So do resentments and stinging remarks born of deep knowledge. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, you wonder: ..

After a tryout run in Chicago, 34 previews and 746 performances on Broadway, and a tour launch in Buffalo, “On Your Feet!” has finally opened in the place where Cuban-born music superstars Gloria and Emilio Estefan made their dreams come true: Miami. At Friday’s red carpet opening at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, with the Estefans and their extended family in atte..

Whether the comedy is high or low, performer-writer Steve Martin has been making moviegoers, “Saturday Night Live” fans and theater lovers laugh for more than half a century – hard to believe it’s been that long, but he started early. Martin’s way with both cerebral jokes and physical comedy is abundantly on display in “The Underpants,” his 2002 adaptation of Carl Sternheim’s once-ban..

Robert Schenkkan’s “Building the Wall” begins as a wary conversation between two strangers: Rick, a white male convict awaiting a likely death sentence, and Gloria, a black female historian and college professor. For 90 minutes, the two talk. She probes; he explains and justifies and slowly paints a picture of a man-made Seventh Circle of Hell. By the time the play ends, the audience ..

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ award-winning play “An Octoroon” layers an antebellum melodrama with 21st-century parlance and perspective. The result is an innovative play-within-a-play that skillfully reminds us of slavery’s horrible past and its ever-present legacy. Area Stage Company’s production, thoughtfully directed by John Rodaz, brings together a talented cast to ensure this melodra..

Even before the election that transformed billionaire reality TV star Donald J. Trump into the 45th president of the United States, playwright Robert Schenkkan was so disturbed by the candidate’s anti-immigrant rhetoric that he decided to respond. Not with a Tweet. Not with an opinion-page essay. The Pulitzer Prize winner spoke back to candidate Trump with a full-length play. “Building..

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Rafael Nofal’s play “El tiempo de la mandarinas” (“Season for Tangerines”) tackles the very relevant and disturbing theme of human trafficking. Produced by Antiheroes Project, this moving play is in its last week at Artefactus Teatro, a well-purposed black box and gallery space in a smattering of warehouses in Kendall. Nofal’s text removes overt violence and male characters fr..

Joshua Harmon’s savagely funny “Bad Jews” is an emotional cage match set in a pricey Manhattan studio apartment. The combatants are Daphna Feygenbaum (Hannah Benitez), a soon-to-be Vassar grad who plans to move to Israel, marry a man no one in the family has met and become a rabbi, and her cousin Liam Haber (Joseph Paul Pino), a master’s degree candidate and atheist who intends to..

The play begins, as it must, with the velvet voice of Nat King Cole crooning “Mona Lisa.” After all, how many paintings inspire an Oscar-winning song? For that matter, how many masterpieces survive damage, theft and the rapacious covetousness of collectors for more than half a millennium? Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Gioconda,” popularly known as the Mona Lisa, is that inspi..

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A 50th anniversary calls for gold in celebration. But Balanchine’s “Jewels”­—a sublime marriage of music and choreography from 1967—brings Emeralds, Rubies,and Diamonds. Those pre..

When the Limon Dance Company returns to Miami-Dade this weekend, it brings with it the powerful vision of founder José Limon. He was a man deeply concerned about and connected to the humanity..

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Despite a packed show schedule, including performing with the Frankfurt Opera in “Rinaldo,” Sarasota native, dancer and choreographer James McGinn had a chance to discuss the upcoming dance-opera ..

Anniversaries usually celebrate the success of a partnership with symbolic gifts of crystal, china, silver and gold. For the Arts Ballet Theater of Florida, the company celebrates 20 years of..

The songs are familiar; the love story is also familiar but made fresh in “On Your Feet!,” the musical biography that comes to Miami this week. The narrative of Emilio and Gloria Estefan meet..

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Orlando Taquechel, dance critic for two decades at the El Nuevo Herald (and now a contributor to Artburst), will have a book signing and discussion of his new book, “La danza in Miami (1998-..

Saxophonist Melissa Aldana Opens Coral Gables Summer Concert Series

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Written by: Tracy Fields
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Melissa Aldana is the first woman instrumentalist and the first South American artist to win jazz’s prestigious Thelonius Monk competition. Which distinction is more important to her? Neither.

“I know actually it means a lot for my community, South American people, and also being a female, especially in these days,” says the 29-year-old, who opens this year’s summer concert series at the Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ on Thursday. “It means a lot that I won it. But to me you know music always felt like something that doesn’t have genders, it doesn’t have cultural borders.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m from Chile or Japan. It’s all about your experiences and what you have to say.”

Known since her 2013 Monk victory for her work with Crash Trio, Aldana in South Florida will be doing something different: playing as part of a quartet, with the addition of a piano.

She says she worked in the trio format for years because it was what she felt she needed musically, to develop the strength that comes from playing with just the bass and drums.

“But now with piano I’m bringing some new material and I’m just working toward what is going to be my next project, which is actually going to be quintet,” with trumpet.

Aldana is a third-generation saxophonist. Her father and early teacher, Marcos Aldana, preceded her in the Monk competition in 1991. Until recently she performed with a horn that had belonged to her grandfather, well known in Chile, Enrique Aldana.

She describes the jazz scene in her homeland, from which she moved 10 years ago to study at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, as small but growing.

“There are not that many musicians, but the few that are there, they’re great,” she says. “There are more jazz clubs, people are more aware of the music, it’s more common for artists to record albums. I think that it is something that is developing slowly through time.” She hopes her success will inspire younger Chilean musicians.

Thursday will be one of Aldana’s first outings with the quartet, which includes Pablo Menares on bass, drummer Jochen Rueckert, and Glenn Zaleski at the piano. She says concertgoers “are just going to experience what is new for Melissa.” It’ll be kind of a preview of the album she plans to record in 2018. But they can expect the tried and true, too.

“I always put a standard in the middle,” Aldana says with an audible smile.

Melissa Aldana performs on at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 8, at the Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ, 3010 DeSoto Blvd., Coral Gables. Admission $35 general, $50 patron, which includes a pre-concert reception with wine and hors d’oeuvres. Tickets at communityartsprogram.org/tickets/;or 304-448-7421 ext. 153.

 


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About The writer

Tracy Fields is a reporter, writer and host of Evenin' Jazz

A member of the South Florida media for more than two decades, Tracy Fields has been a reporter/editor for The Associated Press and a freelance wordsm..

About the Writer

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