Amina Figarova (p) Bart Plateau (flu) Sax, bass and drums to be confirmed
Azerbaijan-born, globe-trotting composer and pianist Amina Figarova introduces ten colorful, compelling new compositions performed by her touring sextet plus guests on Blue Whisper, her 13th album since her 1994 debut Attraction.
Figarova’s deeply personal, highly evocative responses to social turmoil, distinctive personalities she’s encountered and universal transitions of life inform the music on Blue Whisper. Moods range from the haunting beauty of the titular track “Blue Whisper,” as well as “Moonrise” and “Hewa” (featuring lyrics in Swahili by Sarah Elizabeth Charles) to the straight-ahead momentum of “Moving Forward,” “The Hustler” and “The Traveler,” to the sophisticated playfulness of “Pictures,” “Marians” and “Juno.” In “Hear My Voice,” over a martial beat and sorrowful, resolute horn choir, an eight-year-old girl earnestly urges an end to violence world-wide and, with laughter, a request to “Let kids be kids.”
Throughout all tracks, Amina’s classically founded touch, her lilting melodies, luminous harmonies, often understated yet always propulsive rhythms and star soloists come together with immaculate sophistication. Trumpeters Ernie Hammes and Alex Pope Norris, saxophonists Wayne Escoffery and Marc Mommaas, bassists Luques Curtis and Yasushi Nakamura, drummer Jason Brown, flutist Bart Platteau — Figarova’s partner and husband of nearly 25 years – and electric guitarist Anthony Wilson (on “Pictures”) are featured advantageously in spontaneous, creative engagement with her compositional themes and intentions.
Amina Figarova was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, and as a child studied to be a classical concert pianist. In the late 1980s she entered Rotterdam Conservatory to pursue jazz, coming to the United State in 1989 to complete her formal education at Boston’s Berklee College of Music (where she met Platteau, a fellow student from Belgium). In 1998 they were invited to the Thelonious Monk Institute’s summer jazz colony in Aspen, and after more than a decade of bookings in major U.S. jazz clubs, concert halls and festivals, the couple gained legal immigrant status in 2014. They currently live in Manhattan, and tour constantly.
The compositions “Pictures” and “The Traveler” were commissioned by Jazz from Lincoln Center for its 2014-15 New Jazz Standards series. Blue Whisper is Figarova’s second album, after Twelve, on In + Out Records, an independent label based in Freiberg, Germany.
Written by Howard Mandel, 2015