Amina Figarova, one of the leading composers and arrangers in jazz, came to Buffalo and the Art of Jazz Series at Kleinhans Music Hall on Friday, November 11 with a specific intention. To spread the experience of joy to an audience who either eagerly anticipated her new music or were in attendance to get to know this much-acclaimed artist for the first time. Judging from the rousing standing ovation and the expressions of joy on the faces of many exiting, Figarova succeeded in her intention.
The stellar sextet presented music exclusively from Figarova’s new album of original compositions entitled, JOY. Luques Curtis on upright bass and Donald Edwards on drums were featured in the rhythm section. The front-line horn section consisted of Wayne Escoffery on tenor and soprano sax, Freddie Hendrix on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Bart Platteau on flute. Figarova’s compositions certainly made the sextet sound bigger than just six and each exquisitely shined on solos.
Early into the sextet’s set, Amina introduced the title track of her latest album, “Joy.” Hoping to “share the joy” she felt after a tough pandemic laced two years. The music and arrangement were festive, percussive, and uplifting. While she is revered for her compositions, her tune “Morning Dew” puts on the display her world-class piano musicianship. Awe-inspiring her soloing proved to be as gauged from the response from the audience.
The song “Road Ahead” showed the strength of Figarova’s compositions to bring out the mastery of the musicians making up her sextet. A most joyful song performed was “Ruby At Play.” Ruby, a mixed puppy lab, also made the trip to Buffalo, and those lucky enough to meet her couldn’t help but enjoy the truly playful pup. The song gave ample room for the sextet to put their mastery into play!
A joyful experience it was. For some, the Amina Frigarova Sextet experience brought smiles to the faces of many. Just as Ruby, the playful puppy, no doubt raised the level of joy of those lucky to pet her.
It was an exciting and joyful opening to the 2022-2023 Art of Jazz Series at Kleinhans Music Hall. The first of four concerts focused on the art of composition in jazz. Next is a special presentation by Grammy® Nominee Elio Villafranca’s The Chick Corea Afro-Caribbean Experience on Sunday, February 5 at 3 pm. (Get tickets soon here at this link: https://kleinhansbuffalo.org/event/chick-corea-afro-caribbean-experience/)
A few years ago, JazzBuffalo introduced photographer Jack Zuff to the jazz scene and the photo capturing of memorable concerts. A tremendous addition to JazzBuffalo’s efforts to enrich audience appreciation of this unique art form. This was the first time permission was granted to have Jack’s spectacular “art of jazz photography” present for an Art of Jazz Series concert. Enjoy the gallery below. Guaranteed to bring smiles and joy to the forefront as you recall a truly memorable jazz concert experience.