Criss Cross Jazz 1421 CD

Misha Tsiganov

Painter Of Dreams

Available: July 12, 2024

“Every record is a bit different,” Misha Tsiganov noted at the end of the liner notes for Misha’s Wishes, his fourth Criss Cross album (Criss 1409), on which, for the first time on Criss Cross, he played primarily his original compositions and plugged in on the Fender Rhodes.

Like its predecessor, Painter Of Dreams features two highly reworked standards along with six recent melody-forward compositions, to which Tsiganov applies his signature blend of radical reharmonization, mixed meters, shifting tempos, and changing keys. Otherwise, this ambitious recital documents several “firsts.” For one thing, Tsiganov expands beyond the saxophone-trumpet- piano-bass-drums format, scoring five of the eight selections for either three or four horns. For another, he broadens his tonal palette beyond the almost entirely acoustic soundscape of his prior Criss Cross oeuvre, liberally weaving the Rhodes and Minimoog into the flow, as well as the preternaturally flexible voice of Hiske Oosterwijk, who also contributes two lyrics. Also, for the first time as a leader, Tsiganov augments the luminous trumpeter-flugelhornist (and 13-time Criss Cross leader) Alex Sipiagin on the front line with alto sax titan Miguel Zenón, who plays for the entirety of the proceedings, and – on three pieces – the transcendent Chris Potter on tenor and soprano saxophones.

“The earlier records had different songs and moods, but the same sound – trumpet-saxophone-piano-bass-drums,” Tsiganov says. “I wanted a totally different color.” While working on the repertoire, he drew on information accrued in arranging courses with Michael Mossman at Queens College, where he earned a Masters in 2019. “That opened the gate of big band music for me,” Tsiganov says. Soon after receiving his degree, Tsiganov informed Sipiagin (a dear friend and musical partner since each emigrated to the United States from Russia more than thirty years ago) that he’d recently completed his first big band arrangement – on a standard – as a student assignment.

“Alex told me he was recording a project of his music for the Romanian Radio Big Band and asked me to arrange a few songs,” Tsiganov recalls. “I said I wasn’t ready. Alex pushed me: ‘I’m sure you can do it.’ I did one arrangement. He really liked it and sent it to the band director, who also liked it. Then I did another one. They liked it again. I did a third one, and they liked that, too.”

Misha Tsiganov
Barcode 8 712474 142125

Misha Tsiganov (P /
Fender Rhodes / Minimoog)
Chris Potter (Ts [1,2] / Ss [3])
Miguel Zenón (As)
Alex Sipiagin (Tp / Flh)
Johnathan Blake (D)
Matt Brewer (B)
Hiske Oosterwijk (Vc) [2,4,6]

1. Elusive Dots (Misha Tsiganov)  10:53
2. April (Misha Tsiganov)  10:57
3. Up Journey (Misha Tsiganov)  8:52
4. Painter Of Dreams (Misha Tsiganov)  9:40
5. Long Ago And Far Away (Jerome Kern / Ira Gershwin)  8:32
6. Seeley Street Song (Misha Tsiganov)  5:22
7. Chain Of Events (Misha Tsiganov)  8:33
8. I Loves You, Porgy (George Gershwin)  10:15

Total Time: 73:08
Recorded January 6, 2024 in Astoria, NY, USA
Engineer: Michael Marciano (recording / editing / mixing / mastering)
Producer: Jerry Teekens (executive)

“I’m extremely happy with this album,” Tsiganov concludes. “I didn’t listen for two months, so that I could forget it and then listen with fresh ears. I was in Italy with Alex, driving back from a gig. He started playing the end of ‘April,’ and I exclaimed, ‘What is this? I want this record. Where can I find it?’ Alex started laughing at me. I told Chris Potter the story of how I didn’t recognize my record, and he laughed and said: ‘That’s hysterical – and a good sign. Because the only time you can ever hear your own music objectively is if you don’t know it’s you.’”