Boom Tic Boom to bring season jazz series to a big finish at Athenaeum in La Jolla
By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt
Drummer Allison Miller’s quintet, Boom Tic Boom, is a five-star combo, closing out the Athenaeum’s Summer Jazz Series with a concert that should bring down the house on July 11. Every one of the players in the band is hot, hot, hot! And every one is a bandleader, too.
Miller herself, who has been playing drums since she was 10 (but started beating out rhythms on her highchair way before then), says her mother swears that even in utero, she was kicking to the beat of whatever music was on.
Her early influences were Michael Jackson and Prince, but after hearing one of Miles Davis’ recordings, she graduated to jazz.
“I love the challenge of jazz drumming,” she said. “It’s so individualistic. You support the band, but you can improvise, too.”
Based in New York City, Miller has four times been named a Rising Star Drummer by Down Beat Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times called Boom Tic Boom’s debut album one of the top 10 albums of 2010. Besides leading BTB, she provides beats for Ani DiFranco, Brandi Carlile and Natalie Merchant, as well as a number of jazz greats, and is a three-time Jazz Ambassador of the U.S. State Department. A prolific composer (on piano, her first instrument), she writes most of the music for Boom Tic Boom.
BTB pianist Myra Melford, who is also a composer, leads a quintet of her own, Snowy Egret, and is one-third of Trio M, along with UC San Diego-based bass player Mark Dresser and drummer Matt Wilson. This year, not only did she receive a Guggenheim Fellowship for music composition, but she recently won a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and Residency in San Francisco, for her multimedia project, “Language of Dreams.”
Boom Tic Boom will play two of her pieces at the Athenaeum, and she is coming out with her first solo piano album this fall.
Clarinetist Ben Goldberg, a big man on the San Francisco music scene for over two decades, started out playing avant-garde klezmer and then branched out into jazz. The winner of an NEA performing arts grant, he leads two groups of his own and also performs in a duo with pianist Myra Melford. In 2011, he was named No. 1 Rising Star clarinetist by Down Beat Magazine.
Like Allison Miller, with whom he often performs, bass player Todd Sickafoose has backed up Ani DiFranco and a number of musical innovators, including Yoko Ono. A Bay Area-native, who spent years in Los Angeles and now lives in Brooklyn, he won a CMA New Jazz Works Award in 2011, and has been called “a captivating improviser, imaginative composer, and master of collaboration.”
Tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin began playing in his vibraphonist father’s band in Santa Cruz when he was 12. Another Down Beat Rising Star, he performs with many notable jazz groups as well as his own, and is the latest, much-welcomed addition to Boom Tic Boom.
Of Boom Tic Boom, Allison Miller said: “For me, the beauty of this band is that each one comes to the stage with their own unique personality, and they know how to pull the music off the page and make it dance. It’s great to be able to collaborate with such great musicians.”
If you go
What: Boom Tic Boom concert
When: 7:30 p.m. July 11
Where: Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St. La Jolla
Box Office: (858) 454-5872
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