Amina Figarova / Edition 113 — Persistence
(AmFi Records, 2020, CD / DL)
by Jon Davis, Published 2021-04-02
Amina Figarova is a jazz keyboardist and composer originally from Azerbaijan and now based in New York. I’m not familiar with her previous recordings, which range back 20 years as a leader, but for Persistence she’s teamed up with a combo she calls Edition 113, featuring Rez Abbasi (guitar), Yasushi Nakamura (bass), Rudy Royston (drums), and Bart Platteau (flute). Figarova herself plays a variety of keyboard instruments, but electric piano is by far the most prominent, and this gives the album a distinct flavor of 70s electric jazz. When Platteau is in the mix, I’m reminded of the first two Return to Forever albums, though with less percussion, and this impression is heightened by Figarova’s phrasing, which does sometimes resemble Chick Corea’s. Her playing is sophisticated and fluid, full of tasty chording that doesn’t rely on too much dissonance, and while a few tracks are a bit too laid-back for my taste, the up-tempo tunes like the opening title track more than make up for it. She occasionally brings in a synthesizer for a solo spot, and her sensibility on the pitch bends is also a bit Corea-like. Platteau is a fine player as well, providing the bulk of the melodies, often in conjunction with the electric piano, and he sometimes ventures into applying effects to his tone. Abbasi is a known quantity, and his excellent guitar work provides many of the album’s highlights, sometimes providing support in a Bill Frisell mode, sometimes bringing his distinctive melodic sense to the table with subtle use of effects. Nakamura and Royston are a fine rhythm section, with Nakamura on electric or acoustic bass as the need arises. The other factor I haven’t mentioned yet is vocals — Paul Jost contributes a wordless melody on a track, rapper Jswiss appears on “I’ve Got No Time,” and “Bliss” features Skye's World, another rapper. Maybe some jazz purists will find these voices problematic, but I find that both men have delivery and content that is compatible with the jazz setting. This is of course not the first time rappers have contributed to a jazz album, but it’s well done, and just one aspect of a fine release that brings many pleasant references to mind.
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