Amina Figarova Sextet

March 7, 2010 @ NC Jazz Society in Ashville, NC

Amina joins us here in NC for the first of the NC Jazz Society's Jazz Series for 2010. All of her sextet is from The Netherlands all except Ernie Hammes - trumpet, who is from Luxemburg. Chris "Buckshot" Strik plays drums with Mark Mommaas on tenor sax and Amina’s husband Bart Platteau playing flute. Jeroen Vierdag anchors the rhythm section on bass.

Photo: Stephen Houseworth

They opened with a bop tune featuring solos by Hammes, Figarova then Platteau. Figarova opened the next song, a ballad with a beautiful piano solo before being joined by the band. The brass & flute combination was rich with Ernie playing the French horn and featuring Mommas with a sax solo towards the end.Amina played songs from her current release and the upcoming CD as well. "Back To New Orleans" was a reflection of the sorrow and pain the she experienced during her last visit. As they broke down to bass and sax, we felt the loneliness of the vacant streets once vibrant. Amina joined in followed by the drums as they put more flesh on the bone. They picked up the pace with the syncopated beats of "Ernie's Song". We enjoyed a rousing trumpet solo along with Figarova tickling the ivories. "The Elephant" was inspired by Amina's visit to South Africa where she enjoyed feeding the large mammals.

They played "Chicago Split" from Above the Clouds including a cool break with bass and flute leading the way. Bart was the standout on flute before Hammes came back followed by Mommaas in a cat and mouse exchange. Strik, a rather animated character got his turn with an extended drum solo getting us excited just before the break.

Photo: Stephen Houseworth

The second set began with a ballad "Above The Clouds", a warm piece that allowed Figorova to stretch out showing her grace and dexterity on the piano with a dynamic solo. Then they played a new tune, “Your Room” inspired by bassist Vierdag, a very private person. Things heated up before they finished with "Bedtime Story", a very peaceful tune. Amina dazzled us with some fancy finger work as an introduction. Mommaas came in midway with one of his best solos of the evening. The body of the tune was fitting way to end the evening. But of course we coaxed them out for an encore, an upbeat finale.

Photo: Stephen Houseworth

Figorova's music is very dynamic with lots of well-coordinated stops, changes in tempo and ample opportunity for each musician to shine. They had a gentle swing that drew the audience into their groove. The venue was a fine theater, one of the best concert halls in Ashville and the acoustics were very good, even better for the second set! Charlotians can make the trip and enjoy dining at one if many fine establishments locally.

- O