Monday, July 05, 2010

Alex Sipiagin - Generations: Dedicated to Woody Shaw (Criss Cross, 2010)

As a young trumpeter growing up in Russia, Alex Sipiagin grew entranced by tapes of the music of the great American trumpeter Woody Shaw that were smuggled in from the west. After emigrating to the United States in the early 1990's, Sipiagin's profile grew, as a leader and a featured sideman for the likes of Dave Holland and others. This album is dedicated to Shaw's influence on his trumpet playing and musical style and also features Adam Rogers on guitar, Boris Koslov on bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums. The album is bookended by a pair of linked originals, "Greenwood I" and "Greenwood II" and features well played versions of Shaw originals and performances associated with him. "Obsequious" by Larry Young has an urgent melody and a medium-up feel, with well controlled trumpet building in a subtle fashion. Rogers' guitar has a classy and dignified tone, soloing with facility over solid bass and drums in a nice trio interlude. Shaw's own "Cassandranite" also begins at a medium tempo with Sipiagin's trumpet bobbing and punching like a boxer, framed by subtle guitar, bass and drums. The trio takes a nimble section and then Koslov steps out for a fine bass solo. Another Shaw composition, "Beyond All Limits" is a highlight of the disc, opening with a duet for trumpet and guitar paced in an elegant and thoughtful manner. Bass and drums enter and the tempo of the music increases and sets the scale for a powerful yet restrained trumpet solo. The guitar led trio builds its own section in a fast and lithe fashion, and their playing is graceful and flexible whether supporting the trumpet or on their own. After a supple bass solo, the whole group returns to the melody and conclusion. This is a nicely done nod to one of the more under-appreciated giants of jazz. Shaw's tragic early death robbed him of some of the acclaim and influence he was certainly due. 32 Jazz re-released a clutch of Shaw albums during the 1990's, many of which have fallen out of print. Hopefully Sipiagin's well played album will help reflect some light back on Woody Shaw's jazz legacy. Generations: Dedicated to Woody Shaw -

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