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Alex Sipiagin, renowned trumpet player, draws inspiration from North Fork for latest album

05/12/2019 6:00 AM |

Jazz musician Alex Sipiagin often draws from his experiences traveling when he composes music. The life of a musician leads to constant travel and as a trumpet player and composer, Mr. Sipiagin has been all across the world.

For his most recent album, though, the Aquebogue musician reflected on the serene and quiet of home.

His album “Nofo Skies,” released in late April, represents the most recent work of a renowned trumpet player who has collaborated with artists such as Dr. John, Elvis Costello and Eric Clapton on top of all his solo music.

“I always had this idea to come up with something for this area,” he said. “I like to jog every morning and see this beautiful sky at different times of year. And listen to music at the same time.”

He slowly collected ideas over the past few years before sketching the pieces together and composing at his home for a few months last summer. He then recorded the album last September.

“I was literally inspired by just being here,” said Mr. Sipiagin, who’s work is promoted by Chris DiGirolamo, the owner of Two for the Show Media in Mattituck.

Mr. Sipiagin, 51, was born in Yaroslavl, Russia and he began playing the trumpet at age 12, learning the instrument at the Moscow Music Institute and the Gnesin Conservatory in Moscow. As a young musician he played largely classical music.

Jazz was largely frowned upon, he said. He recalled the first time he heard a tape with jazz music.

“I fell in love immediately,” he said.

By 1990 he earned a spot in the International Louis Armstrong Competition in Washington, D.C. He made it into the finals, finishing in fourth place.

“I came out shaking,” he said.

Playing with such a talented group of musicians gave the young trumpet player the confidence that he could succeed in music. Clark Terry, a famous trumpet player, even gave Mr. Sipiagin a trumpet as a present, he said.

He decided to stay in the U.S. and travel around New York, exploring the jazz scene. He had nothing holding him back in Russia, he said.

His jazz career soon began to take off as he made a home in New York.

“Jazz is a very small community compared to everything else,” he said. “I realized if I practice good enough I have a chance to go to different bands and different venues to perform.”

He played in bands like the Gil Evans Orchestra, Gil Goldstein’s Zebra Coast Orchestra and the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band.

By 1997 he began producing his own recordings. His collection of solo albums spans more than two dozen at a rate of about an album every 18 months. Most of his recordings were through Criss Cross Jazz, a record company the specializes in jazz. “NoFo Skies” was his first for Blue Room Music.

His journey to the North Fork began in the late ‘90s when he met a composer, Gil Goldstein, who invited him to play in his orchestra. Mr. Goldstein owned a home in Cutchogue and Mr. Sipiagin would come out to visit.

“My dream was that I wish I could live here one day,” he said. “My instrument is quite loud. I need room to practice.”

Musicians living in the city often use a silent mute to practice.

“It’s not the same,” he said. “You need to hear your sound.”

Shortly after he married his first wife, they found a home in Aquebogue, where he’s lived for the past two decades. His son Nikita is a senior at Riverhead High School and plays saxophone. His son plans to pursue music in college.

“He seems very passionate about jazz,” Mr. Sipiagin said.

On his newest album, Mr. Sipiagin partnered with jazz heavyweights Chris Potter (tenor saxophone), Will Vinson (alto saxophonre), Eric Harland (drums), John Escreet (piano and keyboards) and Matt Brewer (bass). Alina Engibaryan also performs vocals on a few tracks. She once studied under Mr. Sipiagin, he said.

Mr. Sipiagin said they’re all some of the best musicians in jazz.

“Each musician we have some history of playing,” he said.

The album has received positive feedback since its release. A review on the jazz website “Downbeat” gave it 3 1/2 stars, describing it as “an album focused as much on song, groove and feel as it is on spirited exchanges.”

He already has his sights set on the next two projects. The next will focus on straight-ahead jazz, which refers to an era in the 1960s. And after that he hopes to play big band jazz.

In the meantime, he’s looking forward to a performance at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club in November where he’ll play with each of the musicians on “NoFo Skies.”

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