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CD review: Andy Milne and Unison: The reMission

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.

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CD review: Amina Figarova: Persistence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For 20 years, pianist Amina Figarova led a series of bracing and accomplished instrumental quintets and sextets. Those were largely acoustic groups that featured undersung horn players such as tenor saxophonist Marc Momaas and flutist Bart Platteau, who is Figarova’s husband. On her latest CD, Persistence (AmFi Records), the Azerbaijan-born New Yorker has both slimmed down and muscled up her band, Edition 113. Rhodes and Rez Abbasi‘s electric guitar often join Platteau on the front line and the thump and crackle of Rudy Royston‘s drums, prominent in the mix, adds an extra jolt of power.

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Buy more music!

The news is almost too dire to contemplate. Clubs and bars closing. Venues shuttering. The nation’s largest performing arts organization, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, is laying-off its union workers. On the jazz side of things where almost everyone is a freelancer without the protection of a contract, things are even more dire. Could the news get any worse?

Yet even at this darkest hour, it seems there is a possibility of hope.

Bandcamp, a digital music sales and streaming platform, announced that tomorrow, March 20, it will forgo collecting its share of revenue, typically 15 percent, from sales on the site. This is a laudable gesture, and a necessary one considering that most jazz artists have few other sources of revenue at the moment (don’t get me started about streaming, which pays even top-charting pop artists fractions of pennies per stream).

So now–or from 12 a.m. PDT tonight to 12 a.m. PDT tomorrow–load up on the notable releases below and whatever else you might want. You’ll be the artists a great service and stocking up on great music for those long hours at home.

  • Tyshawn Sorey: Unfiltered  A majestic new CD that’s only available on Bandcamp and, at $15 for 125 minutes of incandescent music, might be your entertainment bargain of the season. Watch for my review on Friday.
  • Chris Dingman: Embrace A record with a back story that’s almost as compelling as the music
  • The Necks: Three  A hypnotically engrossing new outing from the venerable Australian sound wizards
  • Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown Chicago’s old pro guitarist for all seasons catches the fresh vibe of his International Anthem labelmates

And if you find music that you want to talk about, the comments are open below.

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