Review: Foreign jazz easily understood, even with accent
Amina Figarova and Tineke Postma showed Friday evening jazz from the Netherlands can be easily understood even with a slight foreign accent.
Saxophonist Postma and pianist Figarova were part of the closing acts of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Distinctly Dutch festival, which examined all directions of the arts from the Netherlands.
Their concert was part of a two-night Dutch Women in Jazz that closes Saturday evening with trumpeter Saskia Laroo.
Figarova and Postma set a high bar with their post-modern jazz that traveled in different directions but never took steps into the past.
Postma, for instance, plays in a fairly contemporary way with a tone that is crisp and aggressive. Her songs can hang in a groove, but that style is never rigidly pop-oriented. Instead, tunes like her "Falling Scales" have an almost-urban rhythm, but the melody line is more linked to some examination of 20th-century serious music.
Her "Cannonball" took awhile to reach its feeling on homage to Cannonball Adderley, but in reaching that point it went through clever and rich melodic examinations.
She is a facile player whose tone is attractive, but with dexterity that could even be more impressive.Even more striking was the band of Figarova, a native of Azerbaijan who has been a Dutch product since going to study at the conservatory in Rotterdam.
She led a sextet through a set of all originals that went from challenging to mellow.
The direction and discipline of the songs and the performers was steadily impressive. While each song had a good arrangement for its three horn players and nearly all of them allowed good solo spots, none was overstated.
Bebop-flavored pieces such as "On the Go" and "Make It Happen" were built around the sax of Marc Mommas, trumpet of Ernie Hammas and flute of Bart Platteau, Figarova's husband.
But each solo was strictly conceived as it was well played, and the songs moved along with discipline and concept.
Figrarova was as good an accompanist as she was a soloist. Her solo on an appropriately named "Another Side of the Ocean" was lovely in its mid-tempo thoughts.
But she also could give quick support to other solos as they emerged.
The sextet was driven by the drums of Chris "Buckshot" Strik, who put together an impressive solo on "Leila." But equally striking in a more subtle sense was the work of bassist Jekoen Vierdag, who consistently cranked out contrapuntal lines.
It was a concert that showed the universality of jazz.