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Amina Figarova: September Suite

Jim Santella By

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The world was changed by the horrific events that took place on September 11th. We were all affected. There's no going back.

In composing and interpreting a suite to mark that episode in our lives, pianist Amina Figarova has captured the feelings that we all share. Impressionism remains a vital part of modern jazz, and Figarova has found a way of communicating with her audience intuitively.

Sometimes there's a quality in art that escapes us. We turn to an abstract painting or an avant-garde performance and say, "I don't get it." Figarova avoids that pitfall by giving her audience a clear picture of her intentions; the music clearly depicts specific moods. She's given each portion of the suite an associated name, but words can do only so much.

Trumpeter Nico Schepers, flutist Bart Plateau, and tenor saxophonist Kurt van Herck provide surreal melodies that belie our faith in the goodwill of society. There's always room for hope. After all, a positive attitude is what keeps us going day in and day out.

Figarova's powerful ensemble blasts also give the world a wake-up call and lead to anger beyond imagination. Her dreamy piano sequences temper those thoughts with what we feel much deeper inside. Sorrow and admiration fall side by side with rage and frustration. In the end, we sort out our thoughts and go on. Warm, reflective piano soliloquies give the suite a lucid texture that maintains an even keel. Figarova contrasts those refrains with driving hard bop sections that provide considerable contrast. Pondering her music is like reading a well-written book.

"Dawn" opens with a light piano conversation. A deep-throated flute voice joins the conversation to add his opinion. Schepers' warm, open trumpet and a higher-pitched flute then trade their thoughts on the situation. Where will it all lead? Eventually, Figarova's entire ensemble enlists in this mission to explain how we proceed. An upbeat ensemble closes the suite with "Laura," expressing hope and a strong will. Modern jazz comes to the rescue as Figarova puts everything in order and summarizes through her stellar ensemble. September Suite shouldn't be missed.

Track Listing: Numb; Emptyness; Denial; Phot Album; Rage; Trying to Focus; When the Lights Go Down; Dawn; For Laura; Numb (bonus track).

Personnel: Amina Figarova: piano; Bart Platteau: flute; Nico Schepers: trumpet; Kurt Van Herck: tenor saxophone; Wiro Mahieu: bass; Chris Strik: drums.

Title: September Suite | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Munich Records

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