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Alex Sipiagin: NoFo Skies

Mike Jurkovic By

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An active veteran of touring stages around the world, Russian trumpeter Alex Sipiagin has sessioned with, among many, Dr. John, Elvis Costello, Dave Holland's Big Band, Michael Brecker's Sextet and Quindecet, plus the Mingus Big Band, Dynasty Band, and Orchestra. For NoFo Skies, his first disc on Blue Room, Sipiagin reassembles his crackling three-horn septet from the loudly-acclaimed Moments Captured (Criss Cross, 2017) and delivers a crackling, ten-song set of smartly-crafted, sweet-listening originals.

Sipiagin and company waste no time laying down the blueprint. Fronted by a flurry of exhilarating staccato lines, tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, Sipiagin, and alto saxophonist Will Vinson, along with the ever muscular Eric Harland on drums, "Rush" in. Keyboardist/pianist John Escreet flavors the title track with an airy, playful fusion. Potter continues his acrobatics when the song breaks into a tightly-choreographed Sipiagin/Harland conversation, giving way to more trade-offs between the horns. And though it feels disruptive to the flow and vibe and holds the disc back from a higher star rating, "Recovery" is a mellow stop and the first of four tracks that return the breathy stylings of vocalist/lyricist Alina Engibaryan to the otherwise bubbling mix.

Sipiagin moves away from the percolating and propulsive with the ambient minimalist explorations of "Sky 1" and "Sky 2." Harland is a skittery presence, his brush work and atmospheric cymbal work giving balance to clouds of synth and the resonant depth of bassist Matt Brewer, who un-demonstrably, holds the whole of NoFo Skies quietly together.

Track Listing: Rush; NoFo Skies; Recovery; Savoir; Sky 1; Shadows; Start Of . . .; Sky 2; Between AM's; For You.

Personnel: Alex Sipiagin: Trumpet; Chris Potter: Tenor Saxophone; Wiil Vinson: Alto Saxophone; John Escreet: Piano and Keyboards; Matt Brewer: Bass; Eric Harland: Drums; Alina Engibaryan: Vocals (# 3, 6, 9, 10).

Title: NoFo Skies | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Blue Room

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