Above the Clouds
Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, and based in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, pianist Amina Figarova is living proof—if any were still needed—of jazz’s international attraction. As a child she began playing Russian classical music and learned jazz by listening to her parents’ record collection. She switched from classical music to jazz while at the Rotterdam Conservatory then attended Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Above the Clouds is the latest in a string of a dozen albums and features the 45-year-old’s intriguing compositions as performed by her Netherlands sextet. Things get off to a fast start with the opener, “ ‘A’ Dance,” a boppish tune that spotlights her husband Bart Platteau’s fine flute playing, Ernie Hammes’ solid trumpet and her own superb piano. “Sharp Corners” is a straight-ahead number on which she really shines and also shows what her tenor sax man can do. “Bedtime Story” is a sweet, dreamy piece that reveals another side of this talented pianist/composer/arranger. The equally relaxed “Nico’s Dream” is a feature for trumpeter Nico Schepers, who soon brings up the tempo. Figarova’s piano playing shines throughout this fascinating CD, and her writing is equally impeccable. Two octet pieces round out this compelling disc. Nice work by all hands.