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