Winter Fest 2014 Spotlight: Amina Figarova - San Jose Jazz

Winter Fest 2014 Spotlight: Amina Figarova

Exceptional pianist Amina Figarova arrives in San Jose for Winter Fest 2014 in early March. Read on to get acquainted with her before she takes the stage inside the intimate Theatre on San Pedro Square on March 2. She's a must see for straight-ahead jazz enthusiasts as well as those interested in fiercely original voices in jazz. Figarova first learned to play piano when just two years old in Baku, Azerbaijan. A natural, she composed her first melody at age three and was admitted to a school for gifted children at age six, where she studied classical piano. Her classical studies continued at State Conservatory of Baku. She then continued her studies at the Rotterdam Conservatory in the Netherlands, where she shifted her focus to jazz. Thanks to the school’s transfer program, she finished at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. While Figarova's late switch to jazz may seem strange to some, it makes perfect sense to her mother, who always insisted that jazz resided in her daughter. As Figarova recalled to Bebopified, "I was writing and playing classical music, so I never took seriously what she was saying. Every time I went to a jazz concert or festival, I was wishing I could do it but never felt I could. . . Later, I decided to try for the fun of it. And once I tried it, it felt like I fell into a waterfall. It took me away." Her debut, Attraction, composed entirely of originals, was released in 1994. In 1998, she attended the Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Colony, gaining experience with the big band that made her consider creating music for larger ensembles. She’s written for her sextet, and will appear at Winter Fest with a septet. Included among her catalogue is 2005 release September Suite, her musical response to the September 11 attacks in New York City. It is explained to be, “an Ode to Mourning, a sketch of grief that may occur in any way, shape or form, anywhere in the world, at any given moment, whether it be caused by massive manifestations of human aggression, or small, but equally fatal ones, by natural disasters, accidents, famine, disease or unfortunate twists of fate.” At the artistic core of the ensemble are pianist Figarova and Belgian flautist Bart Platteau, who’s also Figarova's husband and the group’s manager. The two have been the nucleus for Figarova’s creative output. Figarova has had the honor of appearing as part of the Newport Jazz Festival. She's also been a repeat performer at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Such accolades have likely come out of her maintained focus on original material, which she has been courageously pumping out for the past 18 years. While risky, it’s been what’s helped cement her acclaim. As Hrayr Attarian raves in his Twelve review for All About Jazz, “Figarova's style cannot be classified neatly in any traditional genre because she has forged an individual character. Her work is neither post-bop nor hard-bop—nor anything else, for that matter; it is simply Figarova. Rare are the musicians about whom this can be said.” The Amina Figarova Septet will perform at Theatre on San Pedro Square at 2pm on Sunday, March 2. Her whole ensemble will also be participating in an informative talk-back inside Theatre on San Pedro Square at 12pm. For more information on Figarova, please visit  San Jose Jazz's education programs are supported by Southwest Airlines. SouthwestAirlines_small_124

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