In 1998, Amina released a second album titled Another Me, which is a synthesis of rhythmic music and fusion. All the songs from this album were written by Amina herself under the influence of jazz, Latin rhythms and reggae. In 1999, she released her third album, Firewind, for which Amina performed alongside a jazz septet. Amina taught jazz arts at the Rotterdam Jazz Conservatory and Berklee College of Music in Boston. In 1998, Amina was admitted to the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Colony in Aspen, Colorado.
The album which came out in 2005 was in the top ten of the American Jazzweek radio charts. Amina's latest album Above the Clouds stayed in the top twenty of the American jazz charts for five weeks. This album of the pianist was also well received by critics.
This is your first visit to Baku in the past ten years. What are your feelings?
Baku is always changing, and changing in a positive way. Previously, I used to visit often. And when I compare, I am pleased that today Azerbaijan is very well presented and has a certain image in the world. Now our country is known not only as a country which has oil. We are also recognised for our culture.
That's interesting; when we had an interview with the famous American singer Rachelle Farrell and asked what she had known of our country before arriving in Baku, to our surprise she said ‘nothing’! Surprisingly, in contrast to European countries, in America, people are poorly aware of our country. And of course, every time I try to tell them as much about our country as I can; about its geographical location and of course, its culture. Undoubtedly there are people out there who are well-informed as well, and they know many things about Azerbaijan.
After you left Baku we have been hearing about your success, first in Europe, then in America. Yet how have you been influenced by the basic Soviet school of music?
The school was certainly a strong one. My teachers who received musical education either in Moscow or Leningrad carried traditions of this school with them. My teachers were Shafiyev and Atakishiyev. This is an indispensable base; this wealth cannot be compared to anything. I have often had situations in my life where I was proud of my education.
And have you ever wanted to change the course of events in your life?
Actually, I never plan anything. I wanted to pursue a classical career, and I literally just made shy attempts at jazz. I see my life as a very strong flow of a waterfall. This waterfall carries me, and so far I have been very pleased to go with its flow.
During the concert it was obvious that you are an emotional person. And you even talked about the fact that almost all of your songs were created in the burst of emotion; both the composition dedicated to the New Orleans tragedy, and the composition that came up when your plane failed to take off. What is the everyday life of such an emotional person like?
Very diverse. My everyday life consists of travelling. We fly, fly and fly more. And when I find myself at home again, I am happy to sit down at the piano. I love sports and keep in shape. My husband and I have a hobby; we love to cook. We prefer Italian and French cuisine, which must be all natural. Our recipes have been published in an American book, which talks about what jazz musicians cook and how they do it. We absolutely love to have our friends round.
On stage, you two are a beautiful couple. I wonder how hard it is to live together for two musicians, especially given that they play in one ensemble.
I once happened to be in a company where a few married couples were working together. So we discussed the pros and cons of such unions. Some said they preferred to relax separately, others said something else. But I am very positive that we absolutely do not get tired of each other. We even decided not to have children because that would interfere a bit with our work.
But I think that the opinion of one of you stills weighs more. Do you often have arguments over music?
We discuss things a lot. And there is a distinction. For example, he decides everything that has to do with business, and I decide the music. That is, if I write a song and arrange it, he will never change or alter it in any way.
It is interesting that your members come from different countries: the US, the Netherlands, Luxembourg... How do your cooperation and rehearsals go?
Quite easily. We meet in some country, especially if it is an extra project, and just work together. In this case, it is New York. You know, it is interesting that after all these years I have become used to the constant change of location and time zones. And I absolutely do not feel tired or jet lagged as a result of this change.
Do you frequently attend concerts of other jazz musicians? For example, when we talked to the legendary Joe Zawinul, he told us that he almost does not listen to any music, because it prevents him from creating his own individual musical line.
No, I certainly do attend concerts, because there is always something new. One can find something for themselves. For example, at one concert, I met with quite an amazing drummer. And we made it a tradition to attend each other's concerts during festivals. Even if we are tired or our performances are alternating, we do not miss the chance to listen to each other. I am in constant search; my style is changing, and with age, a person grows. I am happy with music, although the word ‘happiness’ has quite a deep meaning. I lost my parents at an early age, but if we look at it superficially, the moment when my band and I get together to create something new and is the moment of happiness for me. All doubts are gone.
Thank you and we wish you to have as many of these moments as possible!
LEYLA EFENDIYEVA.Jazz Dunyasi
AMINA FIGAROVA'S MOMEMTS OF HAPPINESS