Pianist/composer Amina Figarova Feb. 21

European ex-pat brings acclaimed sextet to Jazz at Holmes

Amina Figarova will perform for WUSTL’s Jazz at Holmes Series Feb. 21. Photo by Zak Shelby.

In 2011, acclaimed pianist and composer Amina Figarova and her husband, the flutist Bart Platteau, left Europe for the United States, settling in Forest Hills, Queens.

The result is Twelve, a suite of new songs that Figarova wrote shortly after the move.

At 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, Figarova and Platteau will bring their sextet to Washington University for a rare Midwestern performance.

Presented as part of WUSTL’s Jazz at Holmes Series, the concert comes as part of a 14-city tour in support of Twelve, Figarova’s 12th full-length album.

Other performers will include bassists Ernie Hammes and Jeroen Vierdag, as well as drummer Chris “Buckshot” Strik and tenor saxophonist Marc Mommaas.

Born and raised in Baku, Azerbaijan, Figarova has, over the last 18 years, earned international acclaim for her distinctive voice, her tight-knit ensembles and for her expansive repertoire of original compositions.

“What is most inspirational about Figarova’s Twelve is the arrangements,” says Mark Keresman of Jazz Inside. “Hers is a sextet that can seem, oddly enough, both larger and smaller in size, with the richness of a big band and the intimacy of a trio or quartet.”

Thomas Conrad of Stereophile Magazine adds that, today, “many of the strongest composer-arranger-orchestra leaders in jazz are women. Think Toshiko Akiyoshi, Carla Bley, Maria Schneider.

“Amina Figarova has a chance to join their company,” Conrad adds. “All she needs is an orchestra. Figarova’s compositions for small ensemble have been brilliant since at least 2005, when she released September Suite, still the deepest, most powerful jazz response to the events of 9/11.”


Jazz at Holmes Series

The Jazz at Holmes Series will continue the following week, at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, with the Ronnie Burrage Quartet, followed on March 7 by a screening of the film We Juke Up in Here!, introduced by ethnomusicologist Patrick Burke, PhD, associate professor of music in Arts & Sciences.

The series will continue March 21 with “Take Five” and the music of Dave Brubeck, introduced by Kelsey Klotz, a graduate student in musicology. The Joe Mancuso Quartet will play jazz standards March 28, followed on April 4 by the Wire Pilots, performing original music by Dan Rubright.

The series will conclude April 11 with Four in One: The Thelonious Monk Project, featuring Paul DeMarinis, Steve Schenkel, Ric Vice and Kevin Gianino.

All concerts are free and open to the public and take place from 8 to 10 p.m. in Holmes Lounge, located in Ridgley Hall, on the west side of Brookings Quadrangle.

Figarova’s performance is sponsored by the Jazz Studies Program in the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences.

Jazz at Holmes is sponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences, Student Union, Congress of the South 40, Department of Music, University College and Summer School, Campus Life, Danforth University Center and Event Management, Community Service Office, Office of Student Involvement and Leadership, Greek Life Office, and Office of Residential Life.

For more information, call (314) 862-0874; visit ucollege.wustl.edu/jazz; friend Jazz at Holmes on Facebook; or email wlenihan@wustl.edu or staylor@wustl.edu.