Allison Miller has held down the pulse for respected artists across multiple genres, including the indie-folk dynamo Ani DeFranco and the soul-jazz legend Dr. Lonnie Smith. Her latest album, Otis Was A Polar Bear, nods to a few other factors informing her bright, inviting sound — from scuba diving to modern art to recent motherhood.
In May of 2016, we invited Miller's impressive Boom Tic Boom ensemble to our studio. This "band of leaders," as I described it during the session, features pianist Myra Melford, violinist Jenny Scheinman, cornetist Kirk Knuffke, clarinetist Ben Goldberg and bassist Todd Sickafoose — all respected artists in their own right. But their strong musical personalities converge to support Miller's vision as a songwriter and bandleader.
When I asked her specifically about her composing chops, she was reluctant to accept any compliments, even though she's writing more beautiful melodies than ever. Despite her so-called "process" in composition, her songs shine brighter than ever on her most recent album, Otis Was A Polar Bear — and this is some footage from the session.
Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom will be featured on an upcoming episode of Jazz Night in America. In the meantime, she performs tonight at the United Nations International School, on a special concert presented by the Women In Jazz Organization. She will also serve as musical director of the upcoming Nona Hendryx's Rock Solid Women's Festival, which kicks off March 29 in New York City.