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Artist Profiles

Meet Drummer Allison Miller

By Published: May 7, 2005
A relationship with her rhythmical partner is key for Allison to keep up with the differing demands of divergent forms. "For me, the main quality that I notice from a bassist immediately is where they place their beat. the more I am into my career, the more I have certain bass players that I want to play with. There are certain bass players that play on top of the beat and that makes me have to play, not behind the beat, but just make sure that I hold the time where it is because I have a tendency to want to play ahead of the beat too." With three kindred spirits, Miller has formed an exciting quartet, Agrazing Maze. Consisting of pianist Enrique Haneine, Shane Endsley on trumpet and bassist Carlo DeRosa, their new CD, At the End of the Day, features a quick-stepping "5 am Stroll" thanks to Haneine and an appealing mix of styles. Strong compositions from DeRosa reveal that Miller has found a like-minded colleague with whom to share the stage. "Carlo and I know each other so well, that we really open up and almost stretch the time. I mean that's when you can really play organically." Endsley, who himself is one of NYC's finest up and coming trumpet players has also formed a musical dialogue with Miller. Their soon -to-be-released joint project entitled TILT has Endsley and tenorist Mark Small providing some crisp and adventuresome in tandem playing and finds Miller paired with bassist Thomson Kneeland.

Being a woman in a still male-dominated musical genre has special meaning for Allison and she is committed to being a role model for younger female musicians. "One of my dreams is to have a school for young girls. I love teaching and if I can pass on the tradition to young girls, that's more important to me than anything." Miller believes that diversity brings innovative energy and results in a stronger session. She realizes that one of the most important things that musicians bring with them is their own experience and individuality. "Jazz musicians play like their life. The older you get, and the more experiences you have, changes the way you play, so I think a man plays like what is given to him in his life and a woman plays the same way. Women go through different situations than men do, so how can you deny that?" When things get rough she relies on some sage advice, "Straight ahead and strive for tone, Ray Drummond says that all the time. Keep your vision and keep doin' what you're doin' and stay positive, then you will rise above the negativity that could pull you down." With her ability to stylistically adapt while maintaining a solid sense of self, drummer Allison Miller is setting a torrid pace.

Recommended Listening:

Rachel Z, On the Milky Way Express: The Music of Wayne Shorter (Shrapnel-Tone Center, 2000)

Virginia Mayhew, No Walls (Foxhaven, 2001)

Virginia Mayhew, Phantoms (Renma, 2002)

Kitty Margolis, Heart & Soul: Live in San Francisco (Mad-Kat, 2003)

Allison Miller, 5AM Stroll (Foxhaven, 2003)

Agrazing Maze (with Allison Miller), At the End of the Day (Foxhaven, 2004)

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Download jazz mp3 “Pork Belly” by Allison Miller / Boom Tic Boom
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