…Above the Clouds confirms that Figarova is among the most important composers to come into jazz in the new millennium..." --Thomas Conrad, JazzTimes November 2008
Fresh on the heels of her hugely successful tours in Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, Belgium, Serbia and the Ukrane, internationally acclaimed jazz composer/pianist Amina Figarova returns to the US for a 5-date September tour featuring her Sextet — Amina Figarova – piano; Bart Platteau – flutes; Ernie Hammes – trumpet; Marc Mommaas – tenor sax; Jeroen Vierdag – bass; and Chris Buckshot" Strik – drums.
Thursday, September 3
Dakota Jazz Club, 1010 Nicollet Avenue
7 p.m. Tickets $15.
Friday, September 4
Time Community Theater, 445 N. Main Street
6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Tickets $15.
Saturday, September 5
Chicago Jazz Festival
6 – 7 p.m. Petrillo Music Shell
Monday, September 7
Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola
Broadway at 60th St.
New York City
7:30 & 9:30 p.m. Cover $20; students $10
212-258-9595 or 9795
Tuesday, September 8
Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Avenue NW
8 and 10 p.m. $25
One of the most cosmopolitan and accomplished artists in jazz today, Figarova is a globe-trotting Azerbaijan-born, Rotterdam-based composer-pianist-bandleader with more than a dozen recordings to her credit. Her most recent CD, Above the Clouds features original songs that refresh the classic post-bop idiom. Far from derivative or concept-conscious, though, Above the Clouds unfolds as a personal, vividly colored, confidently-propelled contemporary soundtrack, satisfying in and of itself. As Jazz Journalists Association President Howard Mandel says: …I've been meaning to write you about how much I enjoyed Above the Clouds… Amina, your writing and arranging has such confidence and maturity, I thought this album belonged in the Blue Note catalog. Congrats on another fine one.”
Born in 1964 in Baku, Azerbaijan (then a republic of the Soviet Union) to a high-achieving, musically appreciative family, Amina enjoyed early exposure to her parents' records of Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass. She was attracted to the piano at age two; her traditional keyboard training emphasized late 19th century European composition (she has recorded repertoire of Rachmaninoff and Scriabin). She was also interested in Azerbaijan's distinctive mix of ethnic folk music. Rhythmically there are lots of influences, including elements from African and Arabic music," she told Franz A. Matzner for a recent interview in AllAboutJazz.com. It's basically kind of like in jazz, an improvisation with the scales and the lyrics."
Always writing music, initially in commercial pop formats, Amina attended Baku Conservatory and even while a student concertized professionally. Still intrigued by improvisation, she visited the Moscow Jazz Festival in 1988. Several weeks later she accepted an invitation to perform piano classics and study composition in the Netherlands, but quickly found herself dissatisfied with that path. As she tells it, Within a month I changed to the jazz program, where I stayed for one year, then I went to the Berklee College of Music." Amina made her recording debut with Attraction in 1994, and was accepted into the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Colony in Aspen, Colorado in 1998. By then she had met her husband and together they initiated a routine of international touring. Leading a conventional piano trio or with Bart in her septet and sextet formations, Amina has appeared in the U.S. at clubs including New York's Jazz Standard and Blue Note, Washington, D.C.'s Blues Alley, Yoshi's in Oakland, at the Portland, Rochester and Tri-C (Cleveland) jazz festivals, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Capetown International Jazzfestival (South Africa), Salvador Bahia Jazz Festival (Brazil), JakArt Festival (Indonesia), in Israel, the United Arab Emerates, in Mexico, Canada and throughout Europe.