Jazz in Kentucky: Amina Figarova Sextet & the Zach Brock-Aaron Goldberg Duo


I got to see a couple nice shows over the weekend.  Both were part of the University of Louisville’s 2013 Winter Jazzfest.


The Friday Night show was a performance by the Amina Figarova sextet.

Personnel:  Amina Figavora (piano), Bart Platteau (flute), Ernie Hammes (trumpet), Marc Mommaas (tenor sax), Jeroen Vierdag (bass), and Chris Strik (drums).

Figavora Louisville 2Performing songs from Figarova’s latest release Twelve, the sextet kept the music lively with plenty of room for crowd-pleasing solos.  However, the highlight of the show had to be the interplay between Figarova’s piano and Vierdag’s bass.  Both rhythmically and melodically, listening to the duo’s conversation in the midst of the group play was like watching a pair of fireflies bend light on a starry evening.  A hypnotic, dynamic affair.

Another highlight was the third part of Figarova’s “ocean trilogy” of songs from the new release.  The trilogy opened with the amicable “Another Side of the Ocean,” then moved into the frenetic “Sneaky Seagulls,” but it was the way the group transitioned into the peaceful drift of “Shut Eyes, Sea Waves” that really clinched things.  Also, their rendition of “Morning Pace” caught my ear… a Sunday morning serenity that filled the venue with a gentle warmth.

Speaking of that venue, the Figarova show was held at the Comstock Music Hall on the U of L campus.  A horseshoe theater with a moderately expansive breadth and a slim upper deck, it appeared to be near about a full house with an enthusiastic crowd.  It kills me when I go to a solid jazz show and witness sparse attendance.  That wasn’t the case here.  An impressive crowd that warmed my heart to see.  Also, nice mix of people.  It didn’t look like just another jazz crowd.

Figarova’s sextet is currently touring the USA’s southern states, with tour spurs to Colorado and New York.  Visit Figarova’s site to see upcoming dates.


The Sunday afternoon show was a duo performance of violinist Zach Brock and pianist Aaron Goldberg.

The show was held at the University of Louisville’s Bird Recital Hall, a shotgun theater that lent perfectly for the subdued ambiance of an acoustic performance of violin and piano.

Brock-Golberg Louisville 2013They played a mix of tunes from Brock and Goldberg releases, two Joe Henderson tunes (one was “Isotope” from Inner Urge, the other composition I can’t recall), and a charged rendition of Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Dream.”

Highlight of the show was a rendition of the title-track from Brock’s Almost Never Was, which Goldberg contributed to the studio version of, as well.

It was a mix of up-tempo and meditative tunes, with my preference leaning towards the latter of those two, but based on crowd reaction, the majority seemed to prefer the former.  That crowd, actually, really got into the performance.  Their desire to begin applauding and coaxing the duo on was palpable, as was their hesitation from doing so, not wanting to break the spell that the musicians set over the intimate venue.

Just the perfect kind of show for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Here’s a track from Zach Brock’s last recording Almost Never Was, from which a couple of the concert’s songs originated from…

And here’s a track from Aaron Goldberg’s Home, which they also pulled from for the show…

I link to both their sites above.  Neither is in the middle of a tour, per se, but they do have upcoming dates, separately, in New York, and then later, Goldberg heads overseas for a tour while Brock heads West to tour with Phil Markowitz, so definitely check them out if they show up in your neighborhood.

Special thanks to the University of Louisville’s Mike Tracy for his contributions to making this excellent festival happen.