ALEXANDER "SASHA" SIPIAGIN -- BIOGRAPHY Alex Sipiagin was born on June 11, 1967 in Yaroslavl, Russia, a town known for being home to one of Russia's most famous opera singers, Leonid Sobinov, also Alex's great-grandfather. Following in the footsteps of his musical relatives (his great uncles were both string players), Alex began playing the trumpet at age 12, studying with one of Yaroslavl's best teachers, Mikael Tsamaev, and later continued his classical training and music studies at the Gnessin Conservatory in Moscow for a total of 8 years. During that time, he served the mandatory 2 years in the Russian army, then returned to the Conservatory to finish his studies. It was around in 1985 that he became inspired by what few and rare taped recordings were available in Russia of bebop and other jazz music and, beginning in 1988, began working professionally in Russian jazz groups, touring and recording steadily. In 1990, Alex won first place in a Russian young jazz players' competition in Rostov City. That same year, he visited the United States for the first time, performing with a Russian student jazz band, Green Wave, when they were asked to headline the Corpus Christi Jazz Festival in Texas. He caught the attention and ears of many, leading him to become invited to participate in the International Louis Armstrong Competition sponsored by the Thelonius Monk Institute in Washington D.C. Other trumpeters competing were such prominent players such as Ryan Kaiser, Scott Wendtholt, Nicolas Payton, and others. Alex placed 4th in the competition, and was presented a Bach trumpet by the legendary Clark Terry, which he still plays today. Following a challenging year, in 1991 Alex decided to pursue jazz to the next level and moved to New York City. He sat in on jam sessions while working in a house band in a Russian club in Brighton Beach until he snagged his first jazz gig in 1992, playing every Monday night at Sweet Basil with the Gil Evans Band directed by Miles Evans, which he still occasionally plays with, then in 1993 he became a member of Gil Goldstein's Zebra Coast Orchestra, which replaced the Gil Evan's Band slot on Monday nights at Sweet Basil. In 1994, Alex became a regular member of the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band while performing also with drummer Bob Moses' band, Mozamba. In 1995, Alex became a regular for the Mingus Big Band, which still performs every Thursday night at The Fez in the Time Cafe located in downtown, NYC, and later the Mingus Orchestra from 1998. He also performed with Eric Clapton, Dr. John and Elvis Costello. In 2000, Dave Holland invited him to be a part of his newly formed big band. Today Alex regularly performs, records and tours worldwide with the Mingus Big Band, the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, and the Dave Holland Big Band, is the bandleader for Monday Michiru's band, arranges, composes, and has several solo CDs out.