Many successful jazz pianists got their start, at early ages, studying classical music. Then jazz lures them away. A constant surprise is the verve and energy so many of these classically trained musicians bring to improvisation.
Born in Baku, Azerbaijan and now based in the Netherlands, pianist Amina Figarova's Come Escape with Me bristles with energy and originality on her first solo, a joyful piano interlude inside the title tune's classic jazz arrangement. Figarova leads a septet heretrumpet, flute, alto and tenor saxophones on the front line, backed by the rhythm sectionand one of the things you notice right off is the silkiness the flute brings to the harmonies, in addition to giving the band another solo voice you don't hear every day in jazz ensembles.
The band has a fresh, swinging, sometimes hard-driving sound. "Buckshot Blues" cooks up-tempo, with a Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers zing; and "Zeolot" has a lilting quality, flute in the forefront in the opening, giving way to a laid back tenor sax. The group has been together for five years, and its comfort level and seamless sound over the exotic rhythm leads into another of Figarova's tastefully buoyant solo slots.
"Reaching Out To You," a lovely song with some achingly beautiful sax work, showcases Figarova'sand the band'sprowess with balladry, while "Blues for Wiro" showcases the group in a bright, boppish, forward momentum mode.
Fine jazz sounds from the Netherlands: sometimes elegant, sometimes kicking out the jams, always interesting.