Written by Becca Pulliam from WBGO-FM
Allison Miller has a jazz portfolio with Dr. Lonnie Smith, Steven Bernstein and a host of others, as well as a pop career with Brandi Carlile, Ani DiFranco and Natalie Merchant. She’s a U.S. State Department Jazz Ambassador, 2011 Artist in Residence at Jazz Camp West and faculty member at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. As JazzSet host Dee Dee Bridgewater says from the Terrace Theater stage, “Allison is happenin’.”
This is the set by Allison Miller and her Boom Tic Boom project that became the hit of the 2012 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival. With bassist Todd Sickafoose setting up the tunes, Marty Ehrlich adds color and range with saxophones and clarinet. Pianist Dan Tepfer spins figures under and around everybody. Players pair off and rejoin, chase one another and catch up.
Lyn Horton of allaboutjazz.com describes Miller’s drum sounds: “clicks, hisses and scrapes, allusions to reverb and brush and cymbal work so fluid that it resembles water misting or swooshing across a fine sandpaper surface.”
There’s a “hip-shaking reworking of Mary Lou Williams‘ ‘Intermission,'” the L.A. Times writes, and “Six Nettes” by Lisa Parrott, deconstructing Ornette Coleman.
“Spotswood Drive” is for Miller’s teacher and friend, who died in 2007.
“After Walter Salb passed,” Miller writes to JazzSet, “I decided to start a nonprofit scholarship fund in his honor. The Walter Salb Memorial Musical Scholarship Fund awards a deserving Montgomery County (Md.) Public Schools senior student $500, to be used in furthering his/her studies in music. I encourage students to submit original music during the audition process.”
After “Big and Lovely” (for D.C.-born musician Toshi Reagon), Dee Dee Bridgewater exclaims, “Allison, you rock!” And the following day, the lady who swings the drums is off to give a commencement speech at West Virginia University. We’d like to read that.
With Dee Dee Bridgewater onstage, WBGO’s Rhonda Hamilton hosts this edition.
Festival producer is Kevin Struthers with Jean Thill. Recording by Greg Hartman and Drew Doucette. Surround Sound remix by Duke Markos.