Ascent to the Blues

“Blues for Wood”


With his latest outing, Ascent to the Blues, Russian trumpeter Alex Sipiagin adds yet another chapter to the evolving narrative that is hard-bop. For his own part, Sipiagin, a jazz faculty member at New York University, brings a mix of influences to the style in an effort to push against its boundaries — folding in elements of the ‘80s downtown New York scene (fitting, as he’s played with Michael Brecker and Dave Holland), Mingus-post-Mingus (he was a member of the Mingus Big Band for more than a decade) and the Cubist jazz renderings of trumpeter Woody Shaw (whom Sipiagin considers an idol). In fact, it’s on a cover of “Blues for Wood,” a Shaw original, that Sipiagin displays some of his most ambitious work, using the composition’s sturdy blues foundation as a platform for his leaping, twisting, somersaulting lines. Hats off to saxophonist Diego Rivera, pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Rudy Royston — who together have become something of a Posi-Tone house band — for sustaining the momentum.

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The Authoritative Voice in Jazz