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Alex Sipiagin: Generations

Mark F. Turner By

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Alex Sipiagin pays it forward with his eighth Criss Cross release, Generations, dedicated to the late Woody Shaw, a lesser celebrated but brilliant trumpeter who performed with artists including Anthony Braxton, Chick Corea, Eric Dolphy, Andrew Hill. A fiery stylist with perfect pitch and lyricism, Shaw was admired by peers and emulated by up-and-comers as Sipiagin confirms, "Even now, many years later, every time I listen to Woody, I always find something new and inspiring."

Sipiagin is also a stylist himself; an exceptional player and leader whose clarion horn has been called upon by bassist Dave Holland and saxophonist Michael Brecker. The trumpeter's band members are also leaders who have appeared on many of his releases, and were all members of various Brecker groups over the years, including the rhythmic underpinning of bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Antonio Sanchez. Adam Rogers, another leader in his own right, is the perfect complement to Sipiagin's warm tonality; a guitarist who continues to unveil his superlative skills on the similarly themed Due Reverence (Posi-Tone, 2010), saxophonist Ralph Bowen's tribute to other lesser-known but influential musicians.

The trumpeter's group is convincing, with a persuasive mix of fresh Sipiagin originals and Shaw reworks that are pristine reflections and contrasts of both musicians. Rogers cooks up a funky riff throughout Sipiagin's "Greenwood I" and "Greenwood II" (an alternate take and a nod to older recordings), as the trumpeter throws down melodic notes with cool precision, shifting between multiple changes of swing. "Windy Bahn" is another original, initially sketched on the trumpeter's computer, a composition that features jagged tempo changes.

The spirit of the great B3 organist Larry Young, with whom Shaw frequently performed, looms on three tracks—Young's "Obsequious," as well as Shaw's "Cassandranite" and "Beyond All Limits." They're perfect examples of the elders' progressive ideas in structure and harmony, along with the keen arrangements with which Sipiagin highlights each musician—the trumpeter's lucidity, Sanchez's detailed traps, Kozlov's meaty yet lithesome fingerings, and Rogers' liquid maneuvers.

Referencing Shaw's biography and Sipiagin's liner notes, some historical points concerning these jazz musicians is noteworthy: First, Shaw felt an immediate connection to another forerunner, trumpeter Clifford Brown, who died in June 1956, the same month and year he started playing. Second, the first time Sipiagin heard Shaw was around 1985, while studying in Russia; four years before Shaw's untimely passing in 1989.

From one impactful connection to the next; the music continues its vitality.

Track Listing: Greenwood I; Obsequious; Cassandranite; Beyond All Limits; Windy Bahn; Katrina Ballerina; Chance; Blues for Wood; Greenwood II.

Personnel: Alex Sipiagin: trumpet, flugelhorn; Adam Rogers: guitar; Boris Kozlov: bass; Antonio Sanchez: drums.

Title: Generations | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Criss Cross

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