SFJAZZ is presenting two Azerbaijani artists in June as part of the San Francisco Jazz Festival.
Amina Figarova Sextet
Friday, June 9
7pm & 8:30pm
A native of Baku, Azerbaijan, Amina Figarova has risen from her upbringing behind the Iron Curtain to become of the most celebrated pianists and composers on the international jazz scene. A prodigy who began piano studies at the age of 2, she earned degree in classical piano performance before relocating to Rotterdam and devoting her passions to jazz, eventually landing at Boston’s Berklee College as part of a student exchange program. Combining her classical technique with a love for the music of Oscar Peterson and Duke Ellington, Figarova has released over a dozen exquisite sessions, beginning with her 1994 debut album, Attraction. Since that auspicious beginning, she has established her career based more on her own sterling compositions, and her efforts have been rewarded with appearances at jazz festivals in Newport, New Orleans, Chicago, Paris, and Detroit. The pianist spent much of her career in Holland before settling in New York City in 2010 with her husband, sextet flautist Bart Platteau, and her newest release, Blue Whisper, is her most accomplished and evocative to date. She brings a superb sextet to the Joe Henderson Lab, including the broad-toned tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery.
Sunday, June 11
5:30pm & 7:00pm
Championed by jazz piano icon Ahmad Jamal, Azerbaijan native Shahin Novrasli is making waves as a standout among the new generation of jazz piano virtuosos; a singular artist who mixes the musical traditions of his upbringing at the crossroads of Europe and Asia with a grounding in the European classical world and a firm command of the jazz tradition. Beginning piano studies in Baku at age five, the prodigious young artist made his debut with the local symphony by eleven, and publically performed Rachmaninoff’s notoriously challenging “Piano Concerto No.2” at eighteen. All the while, he absorbed the indigenous Muğam folk music that surrounded him from birth, along with a healthy dose of American jazz that came his way via the jazz festivals that started in Azerbaijan’s capital by the late 1960s – wildly popular events that helped make the area the hotbed of Eurasian jazz. As Novrasli’s focus shifted to jazz as his primary means of expression, he has been on a meteoric rise, performing at major jazz festivals including Montreux and Black Sea, working with artists including Kenny Wheeler and Tim Garland, and releasing four superb albums as a leader. His latest, Bayati, is a smoldering trio session featuring a New York-based rhythm section including bassist Nathan Peck and drumming phenomenon Ari Hoenig.
Both concerts at at held at SFJAZZ Center
Joe Henderson Lab
201 Franklin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102