Allison Miller: Boom Tic Boom (2010)
Just say yes to records led by drummers. Why? Because drummers may rarely be the leaders or composers, but they're always the soul of any good recording. Where's Coltrane without Jones, or Jarrett without DeJohnette? Nowhere. That's why, when a session is commanded by a percussionist, as is Boom Tic Boom by drummer Allison Miller, there is reason to revel.
Miller has held the drum chair for jazz artists such as Marty Ehrlich, Steven Bernstein, George Garzone, Rachel Z, to pop and folk stars Natalie Merchant and Ani DiFranco. She co-leads several bands: "emma" with singer/songwriter Erin McKeown, TILT with pianist Taylor Eigsti, and Agrazing Maze with trumpeter Ingrid Jensen. Miller's ability to embrace multiple formats of music, making them relevant to the immediate situation she finds herself in, is the key to her success.
This disc, her second as leader, follows 5am Stroll (Foxhaven, 2004) and is a piano/bass/drums trio session, except for one track, "CFS (Candy Flavored Sidewalks)," with violinist Jenny Scheinman. While Miller leads this session, there is plenty room for pianist Myra Melford, who composed two tracks heard here and Miller's musical soulmate, bassist Todd Sickafoose.
Half of the pieces here are composed by Miller, starting with the opener "Cheyenne." This track begins with Miller delivering a thunderously muscular Tony Williams-inspired solo before Melford delivers a bell-ringing volley of sound. The trio delivers invigoratingly crisp music throughout. Whether they are dropping the funky pulse of "Big Lovely" or shy swing exhibited on Hoagy Carmichael's "Rockin' Chair," the trio glides with a sense of exuberance that is rare in the "professionalism" of music today. Other covers include Mary Lou Williams' slick-groove "Intermission," and the set features two tracks by Melford, the angular and disciplined "Be Melting Snow" and the reflective "Night." Jenny Scheinman joins the trio for "CFS," a piece of Americana folk/jazz that leaps off the disc with dance in mind.
Track Listing: Cheyenne; Fead; Intermission; Rockin' Chair; Be Melting Snow; CFS (Candy Flavored Sidewalks); Big Lovely; Night.
Personnel: Myra Melford: piano; Todd Sickafoose; bass; Allison Miller: drums; Jenny Scheinman: violin (6).