If the United Nations is looking for a Jazz pianist, Amina Figarova would certainly fit the bill. Born in Azerbaijan, she played and composed at a prodigal age, then studied formally at her homeland’s Baku Conservatory before abandoning her Classical concert curriculum in favor of the Jazz performance programs at the Rotterdam Conservatory and the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Four years after Figarova’s 1994 debut album, Attraction, she was accepted into the Thelonious Monk Jazz Colony in Aspen Colorado.
Multinational: √. Gifted: √√.
While Figarova’s credentials and talents as a Classical concert pianist are evident, she has found a greater affinity for Jazz trailblazers like Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Horace Silver and Bill Evans, among others.
Perhaps most surprisingly, she didn’t begin her Jazz explorations until she was in her early twenties, making her something of a Jazz prodigy as well.
But Figarova is no mere stylistic parrot. With over a dozen discs in her catalog, she stands as a true compositional innovator, experimenting freely with Funk/Fusion, Avant Garde and, as evidenced on her latest recording, Above the Clouds, new perspectives on the post-Bop ’50s/’60s Impulse!/Blue Note era. Figarova’s compositions are elegant and finely structured, a perfect creative union of artistic soul and musical intellect; Thomas Conrad of Jazz Times called 2005’s September Suite “one of the most complete of all Jazz responses to the events of 9/11, emotionally and musically.”
With her amazing sextet, featuring her husband Bart Platteau on flute, Figarova offers an incredibly nuanced performance, effortlessly weaving all of her stylistic strengths into a moving live presentation, making her one of the most sought after artists on the global Jazz festival circuit.
Potential for one of the great area Jazz shows this year: √√√√√√.
(Get show and venue details here.)