Amina Figarova
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Amina Figarova

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Jazz




This band has no press


1. Attraction
2. Another Me
3. Firewind
4. Night Train
5. September Suite
6. Come Escape with me
7. Above the Clouds
8. Sketches




* Release in time for her sextet's Newport Jazz Fest mainstage debut *

"Sketches" seems too modest a title for the works composer-pianist-bandleader Amina Figarova premieres with her international sextet on her new album Sketches, and performs during her summer U.S. tour, including a coveted first appearance on the main stage of the Carefusion Newport Jazz Festival, August 8.

"Explorations," "Forays" or "Adventures" more accurately describes the artfully wrought, lovingly played arrangements, three to almost nine minutes long, which Amina created for her globetrotting ensemble, co-led by flutist Bart Platteau, her husband. It's true: the band's expressive front line of Platteau, trumpeter Ernie Hammes and tenor saxophonist Marc Mommaas, plus Amina's extemporaneous engagement with rhythm-mates Jeroen Vierdag, bass, and Chris "Buckshot Strik, drums, fulfill both forms and feelings of the music she imagines. But this music comes not from hazy suggestions or broad gestures. Instead, Amina Figarova offers musicians and audiences alike gem-like pieces that, performed by her all-stars, reveal myriad dimensions.

A fine balance of her detailed scores and the personalized expressivity of her "dear musical family" makes Sketches perhaps the best-realized of Amina's dozen albums since Attraction in 1994. This balance characterizes the ensemble's live shows, too, as will be heard during its August coast-to-coast performance schedule.

Amina's music intrigues and beguiles. Her grooving piano ostinati and fleet single-note runs, mellifluous airs, new voicings and unusual stop-times may turn on a beat, lift off from a chord change or horn fanfare, arrive at surprises that later seem inevitable but in the instant sounded serendipitous. Solos by Platteau, Mommaas and Hammes arise spontaneously, infused with their own spirits.

Yet Sketches is solidly structured and finely polished; immediate, yes, but flowing from deep background and focused reflections. It is music rooted in the progressive mainstream styles of post-beboppers including Miles Davis, Horace Silver, Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock, as updated for the current generation by modernists such as orchestra leader Maria Schneider, whom Amina especially admires. Such sounds can only come thoughtful artists whose breadth and wealth of experience inform a commitment to beauty and craft. Amina Figarova is such a one.

On Sketches, as on her previous albums Above the Clouds (2008), Come Escape With Me (2005), Amina and company revel in a rich and varied program. The album concentrates, though, on the central aspect of her stylistic grasp, which extends from avant-garde experiments (as in September Suite, her shocked and sad response to terrorists attacks on American soil) to multi-keyboard fusion-oriented funk (on Another Me). Always, her compositions are infused with grace, color and warmth, her solos with confident wit and her fellow musicians' contributions with passionate originality. Amina Figarova makes the most of her music. Time and again she conjures multi-faceted, entertaining and affecting mini-concertos. Since she thinks of them as humble Sketches, one wonders what she will accomplish when she sets herself to writing masterworks.

Figarova's 2010 visit to America confirms the widespread appeal of a composer-pianist-bandleader who has the potential of attaining an even higher profile and enduring, boundary-less impact.

Press release by Howard Mandel c 2010