Alex Sipiagin was born on June 11, 1967 in Yaroslavl, Russia, a provincial city 150 miles from Moscow known for being home to one of Russia’s most famous opera singers, Leonid Sobinov, also Alex’s great-grand uncle. At 12 years of age, he began playing in a children's orchestra, studying under the great symphonic trumpeter and teacher, Mikhael Tsamaiev, his first inspiration. It was shortly after entering a local musical college at age 15 that Sipiagin was introduced to and inspired by what few and rare taped recordings were available in Russia of bebop and other jazz music. He knew he had to go to Moscow for a chance to learn more, and at 16 auditioned for the Moscow Music Institute, where he beat out 50 other students to get in. There he combined his classical studies with explorations into jazz. At 19 and after receiving his Baccalaureate, Sipiagin served the mandatory 2 years in the Russian army and then, upon release, continued his classical training and music studies at the Gnessin Conservatory in Moscow, earning tuition on pop gigs and recording sessions.
In 1990, Alex won first place in a Russian young jazz players’ competition in Rostov City. That same year, with Glasnost in fully sway, 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, and was invited to participate in the International Louis Armstrong Competition sponsored by the Thelonius Monk Institute in Washington D.C. Other trumpeters competing were those who would later become today's 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, the trumpet which he still plays to this day.