Amina Figarova

Road To The Sun

On Road To The Sun, pianist/composer Amina Figarova celebrates her band’s 20th anniversary. The initial inspiration for this troupe was to create a small unit that could convey the scope and power of a big band. By that measure, she’s succeeded, wildly. A key component is Bart Platteau, her husband and longtime creative partner. The skillful blending of his flute with Alex Pope Norris’ warm brass and the reeds of Wayne Escoffery and Marc Mommaas creates a shimmering, collective voice.

On this outing, the core sextet is augmented with violin, viola and cello on half of the tracks, the bandleader expanding the timbral canvas inventively by making the strings an integral component, rather than mere layering.

The title track launches with repetitive triplets hovering above, gradually expanding urgent grooves fueled by bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Brian Richburg Jr. “All We Dance” settles into a leisurely, sensual vibe where Figarova takes a compelling solo, letting her right hand arc nimbly over bar lines, while her left remains minimal and grounded. The caffeine-jolt of “Snow Mess” pits a determined ostinato against jagged horn lines that morph into a swing, topped by Norris’ burning trumpet solo. A highlight is the gorgeous “Explorations,” a deceptively complex number bringing Figarova’s classical upbringing to the fore. Late in the program, “Circles” begins with a sizzling 6/4 riff, its groove heightening deliriously and sparking a joyous Platteau solo. A radiant, diverse and refreshing listen.

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September 2022
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