On Friday, Ms. Miller will release her latest recording, "Otis Was a Polar Bear" (The Royal Potato Family), with the group, and it's that precision that unifies a range of sounds that might otherwise seem like a musical dilettante's playlist. She is surrounded by a stellar cast of improvisers that includes clarinetist Ben Goldberg, cornetist Kirk Knuffke, pianist Myra Melford, violinist Jenny Scheinman and bassist Todd Sickafoose.
Every professional musician knows how crucial it is to work regularly. Not only does it pay the bills--a pragmatic aspect of the necessarily busy lifestyle we laypeople may overlook--but it also allows for networking to enhance the musician’s internal and public profile. Perhaps most importantly of all, consistent activity on stage and in the studio can provide a direct conduit to prolific creativity as well as drummer/composer/bandleader Allison Miller activities attest.
The State of Modern Jazz: Allison Miller, Jenny Scheinman & Anat Cohen Lead the Way
As we enter a new decade, there is no more important figure in jazz than Allison Miller. This short, wiry drummer with the signature rising-wedge haircut is a powerful percussionist, a creative composer and an assertive bandleader.
Much like Ernest Hemingway's famous description of how bankruptcy happens ("Gradually and then suddenly," he wrote in The Sun Also Rises), the pervasive presence of women instrumentalists at the Monterey Jazz Festival seemed to materialize in an instant, but actually resulted from a long, often underground buildup. Last year's breakthrough, with more than 15 ensembles led by female players, felt radical and urgent, a response to the zeitgeist if not the sickening cascade of #MeToo and #TimesUp headlines. The festival's longtime artistic director Tim Jackson acknowledged that lobbying by players like veteran trumpeter Ellen Seeling, co-director of the Montclair Women's Big Band, played an important role in his concerted move toward booking equity, and he didn't take half-measures.
Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom: Glitter Wolf (Royal Potato Family)
You could almost see it coming. Boom Tic Boom's four previous records were like bread crumbs leading longtime listeners to this new jewel. On its 2010 debut the band documented itself as a trio (albeit with a one-track visit from fellow traveler Jenny Scheinman). Bassist Todd Sickafoose and pianist Myra Melford were all drummer Allison Miller needed to buoy her clever themes and explode her shifting rhythms. Then the violinist became a full member, after which Ben Goldberg's clarinets and Kirk Knuffke's cornet gave the group a truly novel front line. 2016's Otis Was a Polar Bear was impressive if a tad scrambled: wide-angle entertainment that stressed variety and nodded to humor while keeping a serious eye on the art of improv.
During the decade that the ensemble's existed, Boom Tic Boom's sound has evolved, particularly in regard to its instrumentation. Scheinman became a full member of the band and contributed significantly to its second and third releases, Live At Willisau (2012) and No Morphine, No Lilies (2013). Its fourth release, Otis Was A Polar Bear, showcased the group's expanded lineup, with cornet player Kirk Knuffke and clarinetist Ben Goldberg on board.
Soul On Soul: Allison Miller And Derrick Hodge On Honoring Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams performed her groundbreaking devotional hymn St. Martin de Porres at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1965 with an eight-voice choir. Later this month at Monterey, artists-in-residence drummer Allison Miller (who has worked with artists including Natalie Merchant and Erin McKeown) and bassist Derrick Hodge (who has worked with Maxwell and Common) will pay tribute to Williams in a program titled “Soul on Soul” that includes her tribute to the so-called “Black Christ of the Andes.”
Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom Makes a Career Highlight with ‘Glitter Wolf’
Composer and drummer Allison Miller plays every kind of music, and she puts a lot of that variety into her band Boom Tic Boom. It is an all-star band of players who lead their own bands, and perhaps the most remarkable thing about Glitter Wolf is how cohesive it is and the degree to which it presents the wide and varied personality of Miller even though her collaborators are each so individually formidable.
Artist’s Choice: Allison Miller on Drum Duos and B3 Drummers
Walking down 8th Ave. in Brooklyn, I was thinking about my favorite drummers. What makes a drummer a master? I was running this question through my head over and over again and I caught myself singing "Monk's Dream" to the rhythm of my walking pace. That's it! Melody and groove!