Last December, a million years ago, my wife and I went to Cleveland’s Bop Stop to hear vocalist LaTanya Hall, who was touring to support her new CD (I reviewed concert and CD here and here respectively). As wonderful as her performance was, it was hard not to be mesmerized by the A-list trio assembled by pianist Andy Milne, Hall’s husband.
After the show, Milne told me that the trio, bassist John Hèbert and drummer Clarence Penn, had just finished a recording for Sunnyside for release in the spring. Well, it’s here and it’s something special.
“Resolution,” the second track on “The reMission,” opens with an ominous bass note and measured taps on a drum. When you know that “The reMission” was inspired by Milne’s recovery from a 2017 cancer diagnosis, those drum taps seem to mark the rhythm of an IV drip. The slow, haunted melody that emerges as though from a mist, unavoidably evokes the blurry sensations of someone just regaining consciousness.
There’s no sense of triumph here; “The reMission” has all the seriousness, deep focus and banked-fire emotion of an ECM date, and I mean that as a compliment. Beautifully recorded (by Mike Marciano and Max Ross at Brooklyn’s Systems Two), it also has a fair amount of the German label’s characteristic reverb.