Label/Year: Criss Cross, 2017
Lineup – Alex Sipiagin: trumpet, flugelhorn; Chris Potter: tenor saxophone; Will Vinson: alto and soprano saxophone; John Escreet: piano, keyboards; Matt Brewer: bass; Eric Harland: drums + guest Alina Engibaryan: vocals.
Russian-born trumpeter Alex Sipiagin has been faithful to a post-bop idealism while searching for the perfect hook. A regular on the Criss Cross catalog, he released more than a dozen records as a leader.
In addition to studio recordings with Dave Holland, Michael Brecker, and Mingus Big Band, he also stepped out of the jazz sphere by working with Eric Clapton and Elvis Costello.
For his latest all-original session, Moments Captured, he secures bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Eric Harland, who wove the solid foundation on the previous Balance 38-58, and enlists the adventurous keyboardist John Escreet, who permeates these compositions with edgier sounds. He also expanded the group’s frontline with the stimulating energy of saxophonists Chris Potter and Will Vinson.
The sextet immediately billows with spontaneous emotion and kinetic exploration on the striking opening tune, “Evija Bridge”. Formulated with an array of colorful impressions and obeying to complex yet well-shaped forms and textures, everything sounds terrific here: the exuberance of the theme statement, a semi-chaotic passage favoring the collective, the wholehearted improvisations by the horn players and their cutting counterpoint in conjunction with Escreet before the reinstatement of the theme.
“Unexpected Reversal” is another assault to our senses as it squeezes the spatial folk fulgor of the whistling keyboards on top of the cyclic horn movements. Vinson and Potter improvise eloquently in a ping-pong style before Sipiagin steals the melodic conduction to himself. The atmosphere goes berserk when Escreet establishes a demarcation point for his outlandish explorations on the Prophet 6 synthesizer.
While “Blues for Mike” touches the traditional post-bop ways, the cerebral “Bergen Road” advances with a straightforward attitude, opening a breach for Harland’s rhythmic inspiration before the final chorus.
Sipiagin affords some feel-good vibes on the title track and “Breeze”, the two pieces featuring the warm voice of his fellow countryman Alina Engibaryan, yet, it was with the closing composition, “Dream”, that he impressed me the most. It is a fascinating Metheny-esque reverie that thrives with controlled collective outputs and laid-back ambiances enveloped by a strong synth presence.
Each move unleashes vibrant energies, builds up group dynamics, and reinforces the ineradicable rapport within the group. These ‘captured moments’ are kaleidoscopic decors that make for a gripping listen.
01 - Evija Bridge ► 03 - Unexpected Reversal ► 07 – Dream