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. "Nobody could stop me," she told an interviewer at All About Jazz. "I would sit and play and play." Figarova studied classical music and heard jazz at home, especially Herbie Hancock. She was writing so much music her mother warned her that one day she 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 ...
Figarova and her husband, flutist Bart Platteau, live in a Queens apartment with her grand piano. She's just released Twelve on the German label IN + OUT Records. In the liner notes, Howard Mandel writes that "her touch is wonderfully unforced, graceful and articulate, unhurried and sure."
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," Cohen says, "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 on music by Don Cherry, Charles Mingus and "Trumpet" 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.
Clarinetist Anat Cohen, Avishai's sister, 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. The executive producer is Anya Grundmann. Ginger Bruner is our recording engineer at KUNV in Las Vegas.