The new album is a post-pandemic celebration of Figarova’s inspiring music.
Amina Figarova, the award-winning pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader from the country of Azerbaijan, released her much-anticipated album JOY today. Amina Figarova describes JOY as a “post-pandemic release and a celebration of life, hope, and new beginnings.” The new album of music features 10 original compositions written by Amina for her sextet of 24 years.
The Amina Figarova Sextet is embarking on a fall tour to perform music from the new album. Figarova and her ensemble will make a debut appearance at the Art of Jazz Series at Kleinhans Music Hall on Friday, November 11 at 8 pm. (Information on how to purchase individual tickets or an Art of Jazz Series subscription can be found at this link: Art of Jazz – Amina Figarova)
JOY reconvenes her regular collaborators: flutist (and husband) Bart Platteau, trumpeter/flugelhorn player Alex Pope Norris, saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, and Rudy Royston and Brian Richburg Jr. sharing drum duties. Vocalist/songwriter Sasha Masakowski and percussionist Hasan Bakr make special guest appearances. This meeting of old friends contributes greatly toward embodying the warm spirits that Figarova aimed for with the new album. Add to that mixture ten original songs that exude bright feelings and lyrical melodies, and it would be difficult to find a more apt descriptor than the one Figarova chose to christen the album. While past albums have showcased her penchant for complex, interwoven layers – most memorably, her deft combination of jazz sextet and strings on 2019’s “Road to the Sun” – here she achieved music that is equally memorable while prioritizing emotion over complexity.
JOY serves as a reminder that each of the musicians is equally skilled at expressing vibrant passion. Within moments of hearing Bakr’s shimmering percussion on the album-opening title track, the corners of the listener’s mouth start to edge upwards, inevitably breaking into a full-fledged smile by the time the bold horn melody erupts. The tune rides forward on an ebullient 12/8 groove that links African rhythmic traditions with those of Figarova’s native Azerbaijan.
A tune from JOY that embodies Figarova’s ability to awe-struck audiences by producing a full sound characteristic of big bands by her sextet is “Ruby at Play”:
Opening with Figarova’s delicate touch, the gorgeous, wistful composition “October Phantasy” is graced by stunning lyrics by Masakowski that touchingly express a mixture of loss and hope. Figarova’s arrangement takes an unusual approach, building gradually in intensity until the belated entrance of Masakowksi’s dramatic vocals.
For Amina Figarova, the album is a true expression of the art of composition resting on twenty-plus years of chemistry with a sextet ensemble. And, feeling a calling to rise up above a challenging pandemic era. “We all live in uncertainty,” Figarova concludes. “My message and my mission are to spread good energy and lift people’s spirits.”
The Amina Figarova Sextet, appearing at the Art of Jazz Series at Kleinhans Music Hall on Friday, November 11 at 8 pm will feature a powerful assembly of jazz artists:
Amina Figarova -piano
Bart Platteau – flutes
Wayne Escoffery- tenor and soprano sax
Luques Curtis – bass
Rudy Royston – drums
Freddie Hendrix – trumpet
Information on how to purchase individual tickets or an Art of Jazz Series subscription can be found at this link: Art of Jazz – Amina Figarova