Alex Sipiagin: Equilibrium (2004)
Russian native Alex Sipiagin has been a first call trumpeter for several New York big bands for the past five years or so. A veteran of the Mingus Big Band, the Gil Evans Orchestra, and the Dave Holland Big Band, Sipiagin has been a favorite with critics but has yet to break though to the jazz public at large. Over the course of his three previous Criss Cross sides, the trumpeter has shown growth from a mainstream hard bop interpreter to an adventurous post bop progenitor.
Chock full of bristling improvisation, Equilibrium is arguably Sipiagin's best effort to date, and much of this is due to some fine writing no doubt influenced by Holland and a fantastic ensemble that includes saxophonist Chris Potter, pianist David Kikoski, and drummer Gene Jackson. Look no further than a run through Monk's "Evidence to hear that Sipiagin is not interested in run of the mill interpretations, but instead crafts arrangements and originals that are more about an elastic sense of time. Voicing the melody for two saxophones (Potter and David Binney) and his own muted trumpet, Sipiagin changes the rhythmic movement for a slightly off-kilter sound that suits the idiosyncratic nature of the piece to a tee.
Following the extroverted spirit of the opening "Mood 2, the title track, and the previously mentioned "Evidence, a dark and brooding "Sonhando Com O Meu Primeiro Amor by Brazilian heavyweight Toninho Horta finds Sipiagin at his lyrical best with a fat tone reminiscent of Freddie Hubbard. By contrast, the collective improvisation during two takes of "Free confirms that there are two sides to the trumpeter's personality and that he's not afraid to walk a musical tightrope without need for a safety net.
With a total being greater than the mere sum of its parts, Equilibrium serves as a complex and varied showcase for Alex Sipiagin and his top-notch crew of partners in crime. At the rate that he's going, there's no telling what even greater breakthroughs lie ahead for this forward-thinking musician.
Track Listing: Mood 2, Equilibrium, Evidence, Sonhando Com O Meu Primeiro Amor, Free 1, High, Good Morning, Blues For Kids, Free 2
Personnel: Alex Sipiagin (trumpet), Chris Potter (saxophones), David Binney (saxophones), David Kikoski (piano), Scott Colley (bass), Gene Jackson (drums)