Since he emigrated to the United States from Russia in 1991, Alex Sipiagin has earned an exalted international reputation as a no-technical-limits improvisor, sustaining a gorgeous sound throughout the trumpet’s registral range, navigating harmonic and rhythmic complexity with precision, passion, and abiding lyricism. Most of Sipiagin’s 12 previous albums for Criss Cross also showcase his contrapuntal, harmonically comprehensive compositions, full of interesting melodic twists and turns. On them, he projects the same voice that he improvises with but written out for more instruments.
For his 13th Criss Cross date, Mel’s Vision, the 55-year-old master – joined by A-listers tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, pianist David Kikoski,, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Johnathan Blake – contributes two wonderful originials. But Alex addresses the session primarily as an opportunity to focus on interpreting music by others – a song by Potter, a Ukrainian folk song and four rarely covered gems from the jazz canon.
The project gestated after the 2016 release of Moments Captured (Criss 1395), when Criss Cross founder Gerry Teekens suggested that Sipiagin record a standards album. Before a contract could be executed, Teekens passed away in 2019. When his son, Jerry Teekens, Jr, reestablished the label, Sipiagin recorded Swing On This (Criss 1406), the fifth Criss Cross date by Opus 5, the cooperative quintet in which he interacts with tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, pianist David Kikoski, bassist Boris Kozlov, and drummer Donald Edwards, all Criss Cross leaders and alumni of the Mingus Big Band. He took advantage of that occasion to remind Teekens fils of the standards project, and received a go-ahead.
|1.||Mel's Vision (Alex Sipiagin) 9:27|
|2.||Summer's End (Don Friedman) 8:54|
|3.||Four By Five (McCoy Tyner) 8:03|
|4.||Maritima (Chris Potter) 9:08|
|5.||Vesnianka (Ukrainian Folk Song) 10:01|
|6.||Bird Food Take 2 (Ornette Coleman) 6:21|
|7.||Balmoral Point (Alex Sipiagin) 8:30|
|8.||Peggy's Blue Skylight (Charles Mingus) 3:50|
|9.||Bird Food Take 1 (alternative) (Ornette Coleman) 7:02|
Total Time: 71:18
Recorded April 22, 2022 in Astoria, NY, USA by Mike Marciano