Release date: March 4th 2008
Availability: CD, MP3 Download, iTunes
Following a very strong run of albums with Criss Cross (peaking, perhaps, with "Equilibrium"), Russian born trumpet and flugelhorn player Alex Sipiagin strikes out in new directions with this his first major label output.
Those earlier Criss Cross releases had produced lucid, inventive jazz in the tradition of Art Farmer ("The Company I Keep", "Silk Road") and Tom Harrell ("Visions", "Form", "Passages"). Now the Farmer / Harrell instrumentation has been replaced with a much more conscious attempt to reach a mainstream audience. The band - Monday Michiru (vocals), Scott Colley (bass), Antonio Sanchez (drums), Adam Rogers (guitar) Donny McCaslin (tenor and soprano saxes, flute), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Henry Hey (keyboards), Daniel Sadownick (percussion), Gil Goldstein (accordian) – is expanded beyond the scope of the earlier work.
The most obvious change is the inclusion of two vocal tracks ("Afternoon Dreams" and "Sketches of Myself") on which Alex Sipiagin's wife, Monday Michiru, sings (and sings well). But it is interesting how far the move towards the mainstream is so easily evoked by the inclusion of accordian, synthesizer and increased emphasis on flute, trombone, acoustic guitar and congas. It is not quite Americana but it is something close on a track such as "Echoes Of Thought". The place of arrival is, perhaps, somewhere close to where Tom Harrell was aiming with "The Art Of Rhythm".
Yet there is enough of the fundamental jazz of the Criss Cross years to carry the day as the soft-edged starts to many of these pieces evolve into music of greater complexity (as on "Echoes of Thought" and the long, elegiac title track) with Donny McCaslin and Alex Sipiagin himself outstanding.
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