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Alex Sipiagin: Going for It 100 Percent

A Russian-born trumpeter steps out with three recent albums

The most intriguing of Alex Sipiagin’s three 2013 leader releases is a quintet recital titled From Reality and Back, released on Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s 5Passion label. Offered ample rehearsal and studio time, complete artistic freedom, almost a year to prepare the repertoire and carte blanche in the way of personnel, the trumpeter took up Rubalcaba on his offer to play piano and keyboards and called Dave Holland-his “favorite musician” and employer in several ensembles since 2000-to play bass. Joining Sipiagin on the frontline is tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, presently his frontline partner in the collective quintet Opus 5, and on drums is Antonio Sanchez, a longtime collaborator.

The eight tunes, episodic and harmonically open-ended, portray an array of moods and colors. Rich voicings, dialogic polyphony and complex meters springboard a series of creative improvisations by all members, who play at the height of their considerable powers. Seven are by the leader, who has composed over 90 percent of the repertoire on his 14 leader recordings since the millennium. The other, composed expressly for the date, is by Pat Metheny, who a decade earlier responded to Sipiagin’s interpretation of “Missouri Uncompromised” on Steppin’ Zone, his Criss Cross debut, by contributing “Snova” and “Son of Thirteen” to 2005’s Returning.

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