How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Out of the Circle by trumpeter/flugelhornist, Alex "Sasha" Sipiagin, provides modern jazz that is evenly vitalizing and cerebral. The recording's smooth style matches the lush sound of its leader's horns. But this is by no means tepid music, especially with some resourceful charts and stellar contributions from saxophonist Donny McCaslin, trombonist Robin Eubanks, guitarist Adam Rogers, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Antonio Sanchez, among others.
With a number of recordings under the Criss Cross label, Russian-born Sipiagin is a proven leader with a crafted voice that has contributed to the recordings of the Mingus Big Band, Dave Holland Big Band, saxophonist Michael Brecker and others.
Out Of The Circle, is an extension of Sipiagin's ideas of "exploring musical freedoms" on the 2007 Criss Cross recording Prints, with exquisitely detailed arrangements and instruments additions with the inclusion of accordionist Gil Goldstein, keyboardist Henry Hey and percussionist Daniel Sadownick.
Sipiagin's association with bassist Dave Holland is reflected in many of the pieces, which could have easily been penned for a larger ensemble. The flourishing and robust horns on "Wind Dance," open paths to ardent solos, interconnected movements, on the title track and throughout; all evince Sipiagin's effectiveness as a performer and writer.
"Syn" is a fine example of these stylistic approaches. With a beautiful intro acoustic guitar solo by Rogers, it also contains an elaborate, almost chamber-esque horn arrangement, Goldstein's accordion touches, and round of excellent solos, including one from Sadownick. This is creative music at its best.
Another striking chord is found on "Flash," which contains an extended bass solo by Colley, followed by Sipiagin's rich flugelhorn, an animated dialogue between Eubanks' 'bone and McCaslin's tenor sax, and rhythmic accents from Sadownick and Sanchez.
The inclusion of Sipiagin's wife, singer Monday Michiru, on two selections is also consistent with the set; smart lyrics that flow nicely with the instruments. The closing piece "Sketches Of Myself" combines her sensuous vocals in an arrangement that is very hip and thought provoking.
If you've had little exposure to Sipiagin's past music, Out of the Circle is a real discovery. For those who are familiar with his body of work, there's plenty to enjoy on this memorable release.
Track Listing: Wind Dance; Afternoon Dreams; Echoes of Thought; Out of the Circle; Flash; Syn; Sketches of Myself.
Personnel: Alex Sipiagin: trumpet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet, bass trumpet (7); Donny McCaslin: tenor and soprano saxophone, flute; Robin Eubanks: trombone; Adam Rogers: guitars; Henry Hey: keyboards; Antonio Sanchez: drums; Daniel Sadownick: percussion; Scott Colley: bass; Gil Goldstein: accordion; Monday Michiru: vocals and programming.