Opus 5 Press Release/Bio by Bill Milkowski (part 1)
5/25/2015 7:23:31 PM -

For their eagerly-awaited followup, Opus 5 draws an even tighter focus on PentaSonic. As Sipiagin explains, “The second CD is a stronger direction. It’s called PentaSonic because for some reason most of the tunes we brought in were in 5/4, and it was purely a coincidence. We didn’t talk to each other ahead of time about this, but I brought in two songs in 5/4 and Seamus brought one in that was 5/4, Donald brought a tune in 5/4 and Boris even brought in a 5/4 arrangement of Freddie Hubbard’s ‘Red Clay.’ It was like, ‘What’s going on here?’ But it just happened that way. So we were playing around with ideas for the title and came up with ‘penta’ for five, and it just seemed to fit.”

One tune not in 5/4 is the album’s rousing closer, an adaptation of Charlie Parker’s buoyantly swinging “Charlie’s Wig,” which Kikoski brought to the band. “It’s based on the standard ‘When I Grow Too Old To Dream,” he explains. “That’s actually an arrangement that I did for horns and rhythm section that we tried in the studio on the Birds of a Feather record with Roy Haynes, Dave Holland, Roy Hargrove and Kenny Garrett. And it sounded great but for some reason Roy didn’t want to use it. It’s a tune I always wanted to try, so I brought it out for this Opus 5 album. It’s an interesting arrangement because it features the rhythm section. The horns are sort of there, but not that much. They sneak in and out of the arrangement. Usually the horns play all the melody parts and the rhythm section just comps behind them. But here the bass plays the melody with the piano and the horns kind of sneak in near the end. It was one of the more fun tunes on the date. It’s not that involved, it was more like, ‘Let’s play some jazz.’ And I think we did that in one take.”

Edwards’ “The Sabateur,” a high-energy vehicle for potent solos by Kikoski, Sipiagin and Blake, kicks off the collection in exuberant fashion and is followed by Sipiagin’s “Videlles les Dreams,” which opens with an unaccompanied bass intro before segue-ing to a Rhodes-fueled romp that features the signature tight harmonies between trumpet and tenor. “Seamus and I play so nicely together,” says Sipiagin. “We kind of feel each other rhythmically and melodically and sound-wise too, so we can really match each other. It’s really like one instrument at some point.” Adds Blake, “It’s easy for me to blend with Alex’s sound. I know his style from playing with him for such a long time. So in that respect, it’s second nature.”

Blake’s dramatic “Sign of Life” has him switching to soprano sax and includes stellar solos by Sipiagin on flugelhorn and Kikoski on piano.

Edwards’ urgent “Ducktones” involves some intricate unisons on the head between trumpet and tenor sax (somewhat reminiscent of Randy Brecker’s “Some Skunk Funk”) over a pulsating funk groove. Both Sipiagin and Blake contribute bracing solos here and Edwards turns in a riveting drum solo at the tag of this crackling number. “At the time I wrote ‘Ducktones’ I was listening to a lot of electronica and drum ‘n’ bass music,” says Edwards. “I was just trying to experiment with different textures and wanted to do something that was atonal and tonal in the same tune, while at the same time giving everyone different episodes to improvise over. After developing my ideas, the piece just built up that way.”

Sipiagin’s atmospheric “Little Dancer” is an older composition of his that he re-arranged for Opus 5. It showcases some of his most lyrical playing of the session. Blake takes his time on his tenor solo here, gradually building to some frenetic flights on his horn. Kikoski cools things down with his warmly inviting Rhodes solo on this thoughtful number. Kozlov’s “Three Days of Maybe” is an aggressively swinging, hard boppish romp paced by his insistent walking bass lines. Blake, Kikoski and Sipiagin all turn in heroic solos on this uptempo burner.

For a change of pace, Blake offers the relaxed and gospel-blues-tinged “Danny,” which features profoundly moving solos from Kozlov, Blake and Kikoski.

Kozlov’s funkified 5/4 interpretation of “Red Clay” is a clever reworking of that Freddie Hubbard classic from 1970 that includes some fiery exchanges between Sipiagin and Blake. Pentatonic closes on a boppish note with the aforementioned Bird anthem “Charlie’s Wig,” which features Kozlov bowing the tricky head in unison with Kikoski’s piano before the horns enter.

Bill Milkowski
Opus 5 Press Release/Bio by Bill Milkowski (part 1)
Opus 5 Press Release/Bio by Bill Milkowski (part 2)
2012 Update
Live As Featured Guest For NY Youth Symphony March 25 & 26
Alex Sipiagin News January 2010
MIRAGES Liner Notes (Release February 1, 2009) by Ted Panken - Part 1
MIRAGES Liner Notes (Release February 1, 2009) by Ted Panken - Part 2
PRINTS Liner Note by John Kelman (part 1)
Composer Participant
This package IS designed for those who are interested in my pre-existing compositions, as well as allowing a bird's eye view of the new compositions as they form and progress for "Out of the Circle."

You will immediately be able to download a...