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Amina Figarova

Jazzed Magazine • September 2010What's on Your Playlist? • September 24, 2010

Amina FigarovaAmina Figarova has been earning recognition not only as a captivating pianist, but also as, “among the most important composers to come into jazz in the new millennium” (Thomas Conrad, JazzTimes).

A native of Baku, Azerbijan, Figarova studied classical piano before switching to jazz after a 1988 trip to the Moscow Jazz Festival. She then studied at Berklee, was accepted into the Thelonious Monk Jazz Colony in Aspen, Colorado, and began recording. Amina currently lives in the Netherlands and tours the globe with her sextet, which recently performed at the Newport Jazz Festival to celebrate the release of their new CD, Sketches. The group then toured America with stops at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the San Jose Jazz Festival, and many more before heading back to Europe for more touring.

1. The Cutting Edge Sonny Rollins

I heard this recording just recently on KCSM while driving to a gig in the Bay Area. McCoy was and is one of my great inspirations. On this album, and particularly on the title track, there is amazing synergy between McCoy Tyner and the other great players Ron Carter, Al Forster and Sonny Rollins that brings it all to a very different level.

2. Sci-Fi Christian McBride

Brilliant album by Christian McBride, and my favorite track is “Xerxes” with an absolutely amazing solo by my hero, Herbie Hancock. It is so complex, energetic and sophisticated true Herbie.

3. Concert in the Garden Maria Schneider

I love Maria Schneider’s sound, it so symphonic and complex; at the same time it’s so clear and transparent. Concert in the Garden is probably one of my favorite Maria Schneider recordings.

4. Keith Jarrett

A Journey that never ends the more you listen, the more you discover. To be honest it’s hard to point out my most favorite CD, but the ones I listened to most recently are The Out-of-Towners and Testament.

5. New Standard Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock is always on my playlist. But the reason I chose this album is because it’s a great statement that Herbie does here using the “standards ” of today songs written by Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel, Prince, et cetera. The arrangements are beautiful, sophisticated, intriguing. I can listen to it over and over again.

6. Bounce Terence Blanchard

I love Terence Blanchard as player and composer, he is always innovative, and he never forget his
New Orleans roots. That’s what makes his music so unique.

7. Esta Plena Miguel Zenon

What a wonderful fusion of purity of Puerto Rican folk music and sophisticated arrangements and harmonies of Miguel. Brilliant.

8. Piano Wynton Kelly

I’ve been always fascinated by Wynton Kelly. I think you can hear Kelly’s influence on many great players today. Piano was my first Wynton Kelly album.

9. Both Worlds Michel Petrucciani

I will never forget the first time I saw Petrucciani in The Netherlands at a Jazz Festival I cried. It was magic. And since then, live or on the recordings, he touches and inspires me. It’s a big loss that he’s gone.

Beautiful line-up on this album: Steve Gadd, Anthony Jackson, Bob Brookmeyer, Flavio Boltro, Stefano Di Battista…

10. Lost and Found Ledisi

I grew up listening to lots of Motown and soul music. I love it and hope one day to create a project in that direction. A few years ago I heard Ledisi’s album, Soulsinger, for the first time I fell in love with the music, her voice, and the arrangements. Lost and Found became my “therapy.” Whenever I feel blue I listen to “Alright” or “Today” and it makes me feel so good.

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