Saturday, July 12, 2008

Amina Figarova Sextet

When: Saturday, June 28, 2008 • Where: Peavey Plaza • Who: Amina Figarova, piano; Marc Mommaas, tenor saxophone; Alex Pope Norris, trumpet; Bart Platteau, flute; Phil Palombi, bass; Tim Horner, drums

Our attendance at this year’s Twin Cities Jazz Festival is pathetic.
We see several of the club shows but miss nearly all of the free outdoor shows except for Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band on Friday, June 20, and part of the Dakota Combo’s second set earlier today. We see just enough of Amina Figarova that I kick myself for not coming to Peavey Plaza sooner.

Born in Azerbaijan, first trained as a classical pianist, Figarova now lives in Rotterdam, composing and performing and recording jazz. She ended up in Minneapolis in June because she was on a US tour that started in Erie, PA and brought her to Chicago last night. She’s with a sextet that includes her husband, flautist Bart Platteau. (We learn later that he plays flute exclusively, not saxophone and flute, as many jazz musicians do.) Saxophonist Mommaas was raised in Amsterdam and is now based in NYC; trumpeter Norris is out of Reston, VA; Tim Horner (I’m guessing) is from the states. Palombi is also based in NYC. We’ve met him and spoken with him before but didn’t know he’d be here with Figarova. After the set we have the chance to hang out a while and catch up.

I don’t hear enough of Figarova’s live set to offer more than a few impressions. She’s slight and exotic but strong on the keys, and she swings. (Like Barbara Dennerlein, who was here earlier this week.) Her music is stormy and dreamy and full of melody. I bring home her latest CD, September Suite. Figarova was living in Brooklyn when the towers fell on 9/11, and this all-original work, based on her own experiences following the attack, is heartbreaking and uplifting, art rising from the ashes. (Like Terence Blanchard’s A Tale of God’s Will rose from the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina.) I want to hear more of this wonderful pianist.

Hear Amina Figarova on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz.
Photos by John Whiting.

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