Alex Sipiagin: Generations (2010)
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In many ways, Woody Shaw was the dominant voice on the trumpet between Freddie Hubbard and the rise of Wynton Marsalis. Like Hubbard, Shaw could be an aggressive force, but his writing style, tone and angular soloing set him apart. His tragic and untimely death put him in the same category as fellow Blakey trumpeters Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan but, unlike those two men, Shaw's music and legacy is woefully neglected in today's jazz world.
Trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, best known for his work with Dave Holland and his string of solo releases, is a longtime admirer of Shaw's work, and he brings some well-deserved attention to it on Generations. This album, with "Dedicated to Woody Shaw" as its subtitle, pays respects to Shaw, his writing, and his working relationship with organist Larry Young, without being a slavish imitation in any way. The arrangements and presence of guitarist Adam Rogers, in lieu of a pianist or organist, are the two key ingredients to Sipiagin's success. Rogers demonstrates great versatility, and an ability to create musical situations for and with the other players. As a soloist, he channels the blues in a modern fashion, as on "Katrina Ballerina," and delivers some stellar, squirreling single note lines on "Beyond All Limits."
Rogers and Sipiagin do the lion's share of the soloing on this record, and usually ride through the head of each piece with supreme skill and style, but the contributions of drummer Antonio Sanchez and bassist Boris Kozlov should not be overlooked. Sanchez is a supremely gifted drummer, and he steers this band through a wide variety of time signatures and feels: swaggering swing in five ("Katrina Ballerina"); lilting Latin grooves ("Beyond All Limits"); and terrific right hand/left foot combinations ("Cassandranite") are chief among his contributions to this album. Kozlov nimbly navigates his way through some tricky feels, like the shifts from sections in thirteen to some swing sections in four on the oddly grooving "Greenwood I," while his unaccompanied introduction is the highlight of "Blues For Wood."
While all of these elements help to enhance the music on this album, the trumpet is still the focal point, and Sipiagin has no problem taking control when he wants to. He channels Shaw's spirit, using some odd intervals and delivering some unpredictable runs during his solo on "Obsequious." His work on "Windy Bahn" and "Katrina Ballerina" is equally explosive. In the end, Generations should bring greater attention to Shaw and Sipiagintwo trumpet talents worth hearing.
Track Listing: Greenwood I; Obsequious; Cassandranite; Beyond All Limits; Windy Bahn; Katrina Ballerina; Chance; Blues For Wood; Greenwood II.
Personnel: Alex Sipiagin: trumpet, fluegelhorn; Adam Rogers: guitar; Boris Kozlov: bass; Antonio Sanchez: drums.
Record Label: Criss Cross