Amina Figarova & The Matsiko World Orphan Choir – Suite for Africa

AmFi Records – Street date May, 3st 2024
World Jazz
Amina Figarova & The Matsiko World Orphan Choir - Suite for Africa

This is the 18th album offered by Amina Figarova, and if you find influences from Eastern countries mixed with African children’s choirs as well as certain tonalities in which this choir sings, it’s simply due to the origins of this great musician, as she is native to Baku, Azerbaijan. The birth of Suite for Africa was motivated by Figarova’s visits to the annual Joy of Jazz festival in Johannesburg, South Africa. She discovered that the young musicians she met during master classes at the event were as talented as those elsewhere in the world but faced a shortage of instruments and opportunities to develop their talents. As she recalls, ‘I left thinking, ‘What can I do? How can I help?’ I decided to write a piece for a children’s choir, and perhaps they could become ambassadors for other children.’

Obviously, Figarova’s classical culture overlaps with her love of jazz; in the first movement, one can distinguish the children singing ‘Africa is my homeland,’ setting the tone since this entire album pays homage to Africa in the broadest sense. Compositions, whether through flute or rhythms, mark the pace of this African essence. The voices of the choir are deeply moving, imbued with a jubilant spirit and bold optimism. The ensemble joined Figarova’s sextet for a performance sponsored by Jazzmobile at the Harlem Interchurch Center last summer, and Figarova recalls the striking effect that the choir, dressed in bright colors, had on the audience. ‘They sing from the depths of their hearts, and it translates to the audience in volumes,’ says the pianist. ‘With the extraordinary energy emanating from them, it seems like they are pouring love as they sing. I have never seen a concert hall so emotionally involved. Afterwards, we found the crowd waiting for us, asking how they could help these children. It was the most emotionally charged concert I have ever given in my life.’

And this emotion is felt throughout this album, where both the choristers and all the musicians seem bound by love for these compositions because obviously the subject is not taken lightly; one notes all the complexities of the compositions that are proof of a culture linked to numerous journeys, marked by faces, smells, colors, architectures, landscapes, even managing to give the incredible dimension of Africa in its music. Suite for Africa represents Figarova’s most dazzling and ambitious work to date, brimming with the exuberant spirit of the young choir, the vibrant and dynamic interaction of her superb sextet, and the delicate tapestry of world traditions that she so elegantly fuses in these stunning compositions. It may be a suite written for Africa, but it offers a multitude of rewards to listeners worldwide.

Just let yourself be carried away by this wave of musical love to travel and smile, feel the warmth of Africa settling on our skin, an album of very high quality that will be ‘Indispensable’ to all travelers (those who travel in real life) as well as those who love to travel in their minds.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, April 3rd 2024

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Amina Figarova (piano)
Bart Platteau (flutes)
Alex Pope Norris (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Wayne Escoffery (tenor sax)
Yasushi Nakamura (bass)
Rudy Royston (drums)

Matisko World Orphan Choir: Terry Cooper, Joanna Saab, Christina Monjolo, Caroline Goyee, Mohammed Fahnbulleh, Miracle Makor, Davidetta Daniels, Fatu Mator, Gabriel Kollie, Vivian Selay, Promise Gaye Gladys Thompson, Success Bogar, Faith T Collins, Miriam Wilson, Ellen Morris Front, Naderline Gaye, Manna Wilson, Alice Borbor, Helrona Kamara, Eddie Wilson, Jeremiah Mulbah, Beatrice Sarnor, Jessica Saab.