Amina Figarova Sextet On JazzSet
From the stage, Amina Figarova is surveying an iconic jazz scene — people on the lawn, Narragansett Bay in the background, boats floating in the harbor. What a feeling to take it all in from the piano, the instrument that connects all the dots in her peripatetic life from Azerbaijan to the Netherlands to this moment.
As a child in the Soviet Union, Figarova loved the piano at first sight. She would arrange her dolls around her as an audience, then play for them. She told an interviewer on All About Jazz, "Nobody could stop me. I would sit and play and play."
The music of Azerbaijan draws on rhythms and scales from Africa and Arabia, and the folk musicians — working from the same scales — improvise. As a child, Figarova was enrolled in a special conservatory. She studied classical piano and heard jazz at home, especially Herbie Hancock. Figarova was writing so much music that her mother told her that, one day, she would have to decide whether to perform or compose. But she sidestepped that decision by doing it all as a jazz musician.
When Azerbaijan became independent, Figarova was performing around Europe including in Moscow, and eventually studied in Boston at Berklee College of Music. On Sept. 11, 2001, she was staying in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she knew almost no one. The Sept. 11 attacks happened almost in front of her eyes. In music for her album, September Suite, Figarova created music that moves through the stages of fear, anger and grief.
Flutist Bart Platteau is Figarova's husband and essential to the sound of this three-winds group. Trumpeter Ernie Hammes' first jazz teacher was Claudio Roditi from Brazil and New York. That relationship led to Hammes forming his Dutch Latin band, Ernesto's Cubop. He also played with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson's big band. Bassist Jeroen Vierdog has been on JazzSet before, with The Ploctones from the North Sea Festival. And drummer Chris Buckshot Strik organized his own group of Dutch and Belgian musicians, C S N O X (for the Chris Strik New Orleans Xperience). They play originals and cover Dr. John, The Meters and more. Finally, saxophonist Marc Mommaas put a few words on his website after this day at Newport:
What an experience to play on the main stage, watching the boats floating by in the background, feeling jazz history under your feet, flashbacks of all the great live recordings that came from this festival, 'Trane in '61 just to name one...
Recording is by Steve Remote of Aurasonic Limited. Surround Sound mix is by Duke Markos. Newport field producers are Josh Jackson and Patrick Jarenwattananon. Executive producer Anya Grundmann. Ginger Bruner is our recording engineer at KUNV in Las Vegas.