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Alex Sipiagin: Horizons

Alex Sipiagin: Horizons
Trumpeter Alex Sipiagin has always been a deeply devoted musical explorer. From early bop origins to more modern forays, he has ventured far and wide, developing both improvisationally and compositionally. With Horizons this fine artist continues his path, delivering—along with frequent sidekick Chris Potter and a superior rhythm section—yet another breakthrough album. It is possibly Sipiagin's most explorative and best ever.

"While You Weren't Looking," one of two selections gifted to the album by Pat Metheny, launches and delivers a frantic, angular theme over a pounding, ominous rhythmic pulse. Sipiagin takes off into the instrument's altissimo register in a white-hot solo. Potter, more motific, proceeds to rip into it with fervor. "Overseen," one of eight Sipiagin originals, has a Duke Ellington-ian, Charles Mingus-cum-Wayne Shorter melodic vibe. The languishing and strangely beautiful theme is played by Potter's soprano and later, Sipiagin with John Escreet's Rhodes flittering along. "Clean Cut" is a moderate tempo multi-metered selection with a flush rhythmic bed, synth, and tinkling Rhodes. Drummer, Eric Harland pounds away under Potter's and Sipiagin's rides with their cascading lines.

Sipiagin's highly intelligent compositions follow his explorative bent. Meter changes and phrasing surprises abound. Every selection offers a solid foundation for improvisation. Similarly, his trumpet and flugelhorn bellow both fire and ice. His technical mastery of his dynamics and trumpet range via his hand-made AR Resonance horn certainly places him at the forefront of current masters. Potter, with nearly a dozen albums recorded with Sipiagin, is an unattached discoverer twin. Both favor intensity and deeply focused, intense improv. It is testimony to their respective and combined skill that each does not need to pull in bop cliches or well-worn patterns. In one instance—on "While You Weren't Looking"—Potter plays a fragment of the melody to "Rockin' in Rhythm" and, catching himself, immediately backs off. The rhythm section of Escreet, Brewer and Harland are superb throughout the session.

"When Is It Now" is a gorgeous ballad and the second Metheny composition. Sweetly melodic and yearning, Sipiagin and Potter play a lovely pas a deux throughout. Each exposes soul in their solos. It is a beautiful change of pace. "Lost" is anything but. Up-tempo, it is a longer melody played by trumpet and tenor dove-tailed with synth all over an exotic rhythm bed. Potter explores and explodes in his best solo of the date. Escreet provides a shimmering Rhodes ride. This is a highlight among many. "Horizon 1" has a spinning wheel free-form presence with dark, ominous undertones. It bursts furiously before returning to an echoing overdubbed climax and abrupt close. "Horizon 2" is a dripping, dark landscape with a Miles Davis In a Silent Way (Columbia, 1969) texture. Raindrops of Escreet's Rhodes, Sipiagin's Harmon, and Potter's soprano drip in-between the spaces. "Horizon 3," slow and misterioso in vibe, has a muted Sipiagin stating as Escreet, Potter and the leader alternately flutter over Harland's set-work. "AIVA-tion" has Harland laying a rock pulse with randomly recorded "voices" in there. Sipiagin and Potter deliver the melody and Escreet delivers a shimmering synth statement before the "voices" fade.

The Lord Jazz Discography lists 48 instances of ensembles playing a selection or an album title "Horizons." With this offering (not yet listed there), it certainly goes to the head of the class. A stellar performance.

Track Listing

While You Weren’t Looking; Overseen; Clean Cut; Jumping Ahead; When Is It Now?; Lost; Horizon 1; Horizon 2; Horizon 3; AIVA-tion.


Additional Instrumentation

Alex Sipiagin: flugelhorn; Chris Potter: soprano saxophone, John Escreet: keyboards/synth.

Album information

Title: Horizons | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Blue Room Music



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