Written by Becca Pulliam from National Public Radio
As a child in Azerbaijan, Amina Figarova loved the piano at first sight. She would arrange all her dolls around her and play for them. She told an interviewer at All About Jazz, “Nobody could stop me. I would sit and play and play.” Figarova studied classical and heard jazz at home, especially Herbie Hancock. She was writing so much music that her mother warned her that one day that Amina would have to decide whether to perform or compose. But that day hasn’t come. As a jazz musician, Figarova leads her band from the piano in her own compositions and improvisations by all.
Opening at the Newport Jazz Festival was a thrill for her band of Dutch musicians. Saxophonist Marc Mommaas wrote on his website:
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…
Today Figarova and her husband, flutist Bart Platteau, live in a Queens apartment with her grand piano. She’s just released Twelve, liner notes by Howard Mandel, who writes that “her touch is wonderfully unforced, graceful and articulate, unhurried and sure.” Twelve is on the German label IN + OUT Records.
Personnel: Amina Figarova, leader on piano; Bart Platteau, flutes; Marc Mommaas, saxophone; Ernie Hammes, trumpet and flugelhorn; Jeroen Vierdag, bass; Chris Buckshot Strik, drums.
Host Dee Dee Bridgewater calls the next leader Avishai “Trumpet” Cohen to distinguish him from Avishai Cohen, the bassist. The trio of trumpet, bass and drums is “a very challenging setup,” says Cohen, “because without the help of piano, guitar, vibes, or a harmonic instrument, you have to fill in the space, [to] say something and go on to the next artist. You have to spend time on your horn every day” to have something to offer on every gig. Triveni’s sound is “airy” (Avishai’s word) and active, with three exceptional artists in musical conversation, sketching and drawing together on music by Don Cherry, Charles Mingus, and Cohen himself.
Travel is a huge part of Cohen’s life. He wrote “Safety Land” in a plane. Figarova’s “On the Road” is about her band’s traveling life, too.
Anat Cohen on clarinet, sister of Avishai, joins Triveni for the closing piece, “October 25th,” not previously aired on JazzSet. Avishai and Anat Cohen return to the Newport Jazz Festival, August 3-4, 2012. Hear live coverage on our website.
Personnel: Avishai Cohen, trumpet; Drew Gress, bass; Eric Harland, drums.
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.