Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom
There may be no more sheerly enjoyable band in jazz than drummer Allison Miller’s spirited all-star ensemble Boom Tic Boom, featuring pianist Myra Melford, violinist Jenny Scheinman, clarinetist Ben Goldberg, cornetist Kirk Knuffke and bassist Todd Coolman. All leaders in their own right, but all devoted to the 3 Musketeer’s code of all for one and one for all, they play off each other’s strengths with alacrity and warmth, whether in a freebop state of mind, spinning out pop-infected melodies or channeling Ornette Coleman.
A drummer with personality to burn who is recognized from her appearances with TV host Meredith Vieira’s band, the New York-based Miller formed Boom Tic Boom about 10 years ago. While there have been different editions of the band, it doesn’t get any better than this original lineup, an imposing assortment of improvisers that combines an urban outlook (San Franciscan Goldberg is a leading Monkian) and American roots sensibility (Scheinman’s recent album, Here on Earth, is a tribute to fiddle music).
On their acclaimed 2016 album, Otis Was a Polar Bear, Boom Tic Boom ranges from charming kid-worthy melodies inspired by the birth of Miller’s daughter Josie to dark reflections on the violence that surrounds us. Miller said her playing was reinvigorated by her involvement with “The Blues Project,” an interdisciplinary performance piece created by tap dancer Michelle Dorrance and singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon. But there has never been a time when her drumming didn’t provide a jolt of energy for her audience and fellow players.