Jazzy sextet comes to Whitehorse

Jazz pianist and composer Amina Figarova calls the music she creates an "audio movie." Think of it as a film without the visuals. "Everything is an inspiration, everything has a sound or rhythm," she said.

Jazz pianist and composer Amina Figarova calls the music she creates an “audio movie.” Think of it as a film without the visuals.

“Everything is an inspiration, everything has a sound or rhythm,” she said.

After decades of working with essentially the same musicians, Figarova has a well-established cast of characters to play with, all talented musicians in their own right.

The Amina Figarova Sextet will be playing on Sunday at the Yukon Arts Centre, as part of Jazz Yukon’s Jazz on the Wing series.

“To me writing music, since I was a child, was basically a way of communicating. If I’ve seen something interesting I write about it,” Figarova said on the phone from Brussels this week.

“Even in a child-like, play-like way, I would just play a melody and talk about what I’ve seen. It’s kind of remained the same for me, only now I do it professionally.”

Figarova was born and raised in Baku, Azerbaijan. Her 12th album, appropriately titled “Twelve,” was inspired by her move three years ago from Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, to Forest Hills, Queens, New York.

Some pieces touch on the frantic nature of living in a big city, while others examine the more quiet moments alone.

In a review of the album, the New York City Jazz Record called the recording “one that showcases one of jazz’s very best working bands.”

In the jazz world, long-running bands with the same cast of musicians are the exception rather than the rule. The core of this band has been together for about 20 years.

Jazz Yukon president Duncan Sinclair says that cohesiveness is what gives them their unique, identifiable sound.

“It’s a working band. She knows who she’s composing for, and that kind of intimacy is something the audience can feel,” he said.

The makeup of the band also contributes to the unique sound, Sinclair said. Along with the standard horns and trumpets found in many jazz ensembles, the Figarova sextet includes a flute played by Figarova’s husband, Bart Platteau.

“It’s almost an orchestra in a way, with six people,” Sinclair said. “The possibilities are incredible.”

When she composes and when she plays, Figarova said she’s always working on being a bridge between the audience and the band, so that everyone can feel the world she has created in her mind.

“Audience becomes part of the world I’m talking about.”

The Whitehorse audience will get a particularly up-close-and-personal experience. The show is being staged cabaret-style, meaning the tiny audience of 125 people is right on the stage with the musicians.

Figarova was last in Whitehorse for three days in 2008.

She said she’s been trying to find a way to come back ever since.

“Lots of people live there because they choose to live there. The whole atmosphere is so special. I often talk about this, and I tell people the world in Whitehorse is almost perfect to me. The atmosphere, this is how the world’s supposed to be.”

Her experience in the North was inspirational enough that she plans on playing a special piece at the Whitehorse show.

“There is a place in Whitehorse, and I’m not going to tell you what place, that became the title of one of my pieces. I just want to keep that a surprise,” she said.

Jazz Yukon was officially incorporated in 1991. The Jazz on the Wing series started in 1994.

Since then it has grown to an organization that put on 25 shows last year.

Sinclair said they have worked to make the Yukon a go-to destination for musicians.

Figarova’s visit this time is only for a day and a half, but in 2008 she was able to spend three days in Whitehorse and experience the jazz scene that is growing here.

“I remember giving a composition workshop. I was absolutely amazed, although they were amateur students, by the quality of composers at a very high level,” she said.

While the idea of a jazz concert may be foreign to some, it often only takes one experience to make a difference, Sinclair said.

“We’ve got a lot of people converting.”

The Amina Figarova Sextet show is happening at the Yukon Arts Centre Sunday, Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $22 for adults, $17 for seniors, $15 for teens and $5 for children.

For more information visit: www.jazzyukon.ca.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services building in Whitehorse on March 28, 2019. Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed for good say they were relieved to hear that the Yukon RCMP has undertaken a forensic audit into the now-defunct NGO’s financial affairs. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Former Many Rivers board members relieved to hear about forensic audit, wonder what took so long

Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed… Continue reading

Whitehorse General Hospital in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. The Yukon Employees’ Union and Yukon Hospital Corporation are at odds over whether there’s a critical staffing shortage at the territory’s hospitals. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
YEU, Yukon Hospital Corp. at odds over whether hospitals are understaffed

YEU says four nurses quit within 12 hours last week, a claim the YHC says is “inaccurate”

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates, Ray Hartling and Mark Lange, have filed a class action against the jail, corrections officials and Yukon government on behalf of everyone who’s been placed in two restrictive units over the past six years. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Class action filed against Whitehorse Correctional Centre over use of segregation

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates have filed a class action against… Continue reading


Wyatt’s World for Oct. 21, 2020

Movie poster for <em>Ìfé,</em> a movie being shown during OUT North Film Festival, which includes approximately 20 different films accessible online this year. (Submitted)
OUT North Film Festival moves to virtual format

In its ninth year, the artistic director said this year has a more diverse set of short and feature films

Triple J’s Canna Space in Whitehorse on April 17, 2019, opens their first container of product. Two years after Canada legalized the sale of cannabis, Yukon leads the country in per capita legal sales. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon leads Canadian cannabis sales two years after legalization

Private retailers still asking for changes that would allow online sales

A sign greets guests near the entrance of the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse on June 11. The city announced Oct. 16 it was moving into the next part of its phased reopening plan with spectator seating areas open at a reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
CGC reopening continues

Limited spectator seating now available

During Whitehorse city council’s Oct. 19 meeting, planning manager Mélodie Simard brought forward a recommendation that a proposed Official Community Plan amendment move forward that would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend, currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
More development in Whistle Bend contemplated

OCP change would be the first of several steps to develop future area

EDITORIAL: Don’t let the City of Whitehorse distract you

A little over two weeks after Whitehorse city council voted to give… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Northwestel has released the proposed prices for its unlimited plans. Unlimited internet in Whitehorse and Carcross could cost users between $160.95 and $249.95 per month depending on their choice of package. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet options outlined

Will require CRTC approval before Northwestel makes them available

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse. Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting instead of 30 days to make up for lost time caused by COVID-19 in the spring. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Legislative assembly sitting extended

Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting. The extension… Continue reading

Today’s mailbox: Mad about MAD

Letters to the editor published Oct. 16, 2020

Most Read