When Russia was under Communist rule, jazz represented freedom, and one of its freedom fighters was the ebullient trumpeter Valery Ponomarev, who played with many distinguished stars including Art Blakey. Now, that country has delivered to the jazz world a new herald on that instrument: the talented trumpeter and flugelhornist Alex Sipiagin, on his Sunnyside debut, Out of the Circle.
With many CDs to his credit, the New York-based Sipiagin a mainstay in various Mingus aggregations, Dave Holland s groups and in wife Monday Michiru s band has put together a fine assembly of top flight musicians on this disc, including Michiru, bassist Scott Colley, drummer Antonio Sanchez, guitarist Adam Rogers, Sunnyside tenor/soprano saxophonist/flutist Donny McCaslin, keyboardist Henry Hey, percussionist Daniel Sadownick accordionist Gil Goldstein, and trombonist Robin Eubanks.
Much of the music on this CD evolved from a 2007 Criss Cross release entitled Prints.
For example the track Path on Prints relates to Wind Dance on this album Sipiagin writes in the CD liner notes. I only recently realized that both songs were written under similar circumstances; while Path was written on a train coming back from a Dave Holland gig in DC, Wind Dance was written a year later going on a plane to Dave's gig in Tennessee. These two songs reflect my deep love and respect for Dave and his music... Another correlation is Mood III in Prints and the title track to this album ..., which I feel have a connection to each other and is a continuum from one to the next. At one stage I was considering naming this song Mood IV , and feel this could even be its alternate title. I feel there are similar if not the same colors shared between the two songs.
No doubt Dave Holland s influence is evident in Sipiagin s work, but he s his own man compositionally. The seven tracks on this collection swing with an intricate, yet accessible CTI-like, Latinesque mainstream swing, contrapuntal hornlines, engaging percussive percolations, and intelligent keyboards, which set the supple and swinging stage for the leader s trumpet and flugelhorn. For many listeners who are aware of my previous works, I believe you will find that this album is more spread out in different directions, Sipiagin writes. For me, however, it's actually a straight line. This time I tried to explore some other areas such as Brazilian and even going a little into the pop direction with the help of my wife. Indeed the tracks that feature Monday Michiru s vocals, Afternoon Dreams, and Sketches of Myself, are particular standouts.
With Out of the Circle as his launching pad to new artistic heights, Michael Sipiagin s artistry will go far into the future, fueled by the people, places and spaces he s seen. It is also no doubt due to the influence of the people I have been working with in the last several years such as Dave Holland and Michael Brecker. It really helped me to realize and learn how not to be disappointed if things aren't going the way I expect or want, to remain positive and move forward. I applied this thought towards this project in that while it might not be at the level I want it to be, I still have room to grow for the next project.