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Alex Sipiagin: NoFo Skies (Blue Room)

A review of the Russian trumpeter's first album for Blue Room

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NoFo Skies by Alex Sipiagin
The cover of NoFo Skies by Alex Sipiagin

Through 11 records as a leader on the Criss Cross label between 2001 and 2017, the Russian trumpeter Alex Sipiagin steadily tweaked his no-compromise template of ingenious compositions and high-octane interplay, allowing his ace cohorts plenty of room for explosive expression. Sipiagin’s move to the Blue Room imprint has not deterred NoFo Skies from becoming the latest pinnacle in this thrilling evolution.

Reared in big bands with an emphasis on Mingus, Sipiagin loves polyphony, and when all three horns (Chris Potter, Sipiagin, and alto Will Vinson) are gamboling, Harland seems like he’s specifically catering to each—with a hat tip to bassist Matt Brewer, who is woody, bold, yet purposefully complementary to the rhythmic enterprise. Drummer Eric Harland is a monster accompanist throughout, but seizes some spotlight on the final solo of the opener, “Rush,” and via his ambient percussion on the atmospheric “Sky 1” and “Sky 2.”

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