Alex Sipiagin – Generations – Criss Cross Jazz

by | Sep 26, 2010 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Alex Sipiagin – Generations – Criss Cross Jazz 1325, 67:55 ****:

(Alex Sipiagin, trumpet and flugelhorn; Adam Rogers, guitar; Boris Koslov, bass; Antonio Sanchez, drums)

Since coming to the US around 1990, where he did well enough in the Thelonius Monk International Institute’s Louis Armstrong Competition in Washington, D.C. , to make the relocation to New York City a feasible decision, Alex Sipiagin has had a steady rise in his profile as first call trumpeter. He has several Criss Cross label CDs as a leader, as well as serving as a trumpeter for the Mingus Big Band and a member of Dave Holland’s Quintet.

For his 2010 Criss Cross release, Alex decided to go without a piano in his quartet setting. In his dedication CD to his trumpet inspiration Woody Shaw, Alex decided to eschew a bop/hard bop setting for the dedication and instead has a more fusion focus due to the involvement of guitarist Adam Rogers. Playing a mixture of Shaw compositions and originals, Sipiagin both honors and expands the horizon on this dedication CD.

The first thing you will notice is that active role that guitarist Rogers makes. In a modal fashion, Adam takes over the role that a pianist might make. Fellow Mingus band member, Boris Koslov, is locked in to Alex and Adam, with his playing very upfront in the mix. Drummer Antonio Sanchez also stirs the pot as the quartet are all actively involved. Rogers solos freely on “Greenwood 1”.  Larry Young’s “Obsequious” has much the same feel and Rogers’ guitar lines seem to blend in like Larry Young’s organ, setting a vamp where Sipiagin is taking his solo. Sanchez drives the tempo while Alex wails.

Woody Shaw’s classic, Cassandranite, is taken closer to Shaw’s version, but again Rogers guitar is prominent, unlike Woody’s many versions over the  years. Shaw’s “Beyond All Limits” highlights Sipiagin’s prowess on the trumpet, as he has a brashness and attack that compares to Shaw’s. Alex really stands out among today’s young trumpeters.

“Katrina Ballerina” comes closest to a true ballad, and once again Alex shows off his more lyrical side, while Rogers comps like a piano player would. Boris Koslov has a compelling solo on “Windy Bahn.”

“Blues for Wood”, after a solo opening for Koslov that goes on for over a minute morphs into a straighter blues riff that comes closest to a Woody Shaw era version, giving Sipiagin the opportunity to emulate Woody.

Recording engineer Michael Marciano has done a superb job with the sound mix and bringing the rest of the quartet upfront in the mix. The mix and mastering by Max Bolleman and Tim Masters, respectively, are also first rate.

For fans of Sipiagin and the late Woody Shaw, this tribute CD comes highly recommended, especially if you enjoy a piano-free version, where both the past and a modal present day mix are co-mingled.

Greenwood I, Obsequious, Cassandranite, Beyond All Limits, Windy Bahn, Katrina Ballerina, Chance, Blues for Wood, Greenwood II
– Jeff Krow

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