One of the busiest drummers in the business, Allison Miller juggles her time between gigs with singer-songwriters such as Natalie Merchant, Ani DiFranco, and Brandi Carlile and jazz dates with the likes of Marty Ehrlich, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and her own groups, one of which is Boom Tic Boom. It’s also the title of her second CD as a leader. Although Miller is based in Brooklyn, the current Boom Tic Boom lineup has strong Bay Area connections. Pianist Myra Melford teaches at UC Berkeley. Bassist Todd Sickafoose used to live and play locally, as did violinist Jenny Scheinman, who guests on only one track of the disc but is now a full-fledged member of the band.
Much like the snap, crackle, and pop associated with one of Miller’s favorite drummers, the venerable Roy Haynes, Boom Tic Boom is tight, buoyant, and clearly a drummer’s album. Miller gets distinctive timbres out of her trap set, especially rim shots on snare drum and pings on cymbals and cowbells, that help define her style. Her rhythms bounce and glide, from the graceful time-signature-shifting swing of “Cheyenne” and her parade syncopations behind Scheinman’s hoedown fiddle riffs on “CFS (Candy Flavored Sidewalks)” to the 4/4 funk of “Big Lovely.”
Rounding out the remarkably varied program are Mary Lou Williams‘ “Intermission” in 11/4 time and a transformation of “Rockin’ Chair” so uncharacteristically tender that Hoagy Carmichael‘s original melody is barely recognizable. (Foxhaven)