Alex Sipiagin

Steppin' Zone

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Trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, one of the mainstays of the Mingus Big Band, has some distinguished company on his Criss Cross debut: Chris Potter on tenor sax, David Kikoski on piano, Scott Colley on bass, and Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums. It's highly unlikely that an A-list quintet such as this would let listeners down and, sure enough, the disc swings like crazy from beginning to end. The program is bookended by two takes of Colley's "Catalyst," which the bassist also recorded for his Portable Universe album. Other highlights include the difficult and seldom-covered "Missouri Uncompromised" by Pat Metheny, Sipiagin's steady-burning "Room 28," and a long take of Kikoski's harmonically free "Spacing." The group slows things down with Toninho Horta's "Moonstone" and the leader's lilting title track. (Their odd-metered interpretation of George Shearing's "Conception" is strikingly similar to the version that appears on George Colligan's Como la Vida Puede Ser.) Bolder and more unorthodox records have been made, but this kind of scorching, straight-ahead musicianship is always a pleasure to hear.

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