Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom - Glitter Wolf (Royal Potato Family, 2019)

This is the fifth album from drummer and composer Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom Ensemble, which features Jenny Scheinman on violin, Kirk Knuffke on cornet, Ben Goldberg on clarinet and bass clarinet, Todd Sickafoose on bass and Myra Melford on piano. Together they pool their experience and develop a communal and forward thinking approach to modern jazz that is very successful. "Congratulations and Condolences" opens the album with colorful piano chords, brass and reeds creating a unique atmosphere along side crisp rhythm. There is a vibrant and bubbling clarinet solo over undulating the rhythm section playing at speed which is exciting to hear, and powerful cornet arcing overhead like an arrow shot on high, drawing its strength from the percolating music below it. Melford contributes a complex and riotous piano solo, playing fast and furious but wonderfully thrilling in her narrative, and Taylorish in the scope and grandeur, with the rest of the group filling in for a kaleidoscopic conclusion. There is an excellent drum solo to open "The Ride," with the band falling in around Miller piece by piece, with rippling piano and rhythmic bass clarinet. This leads to a quieter section, punctuated by strong brass and piano leading the music back to a faster pace and a section for hoedown violin and percussion, creating an excellent texture with some vibes added for additional color. Tooting bass clarinet adds darker hues to the mix as the band gathers their forces, leading to a subtle conclusion. "Malaga" evolves slowly, but it is the percussive nature of the drums, piano, bass and gradually the clarinet that allow the music to build over time to encompass very interesting territory. The violin also plays an important if almost imperceptible role, either gently plucked or ever so slightly bowed, adding to the momentum. The clarinet has a beautiful light and free tone, swirling and swooping around the other instruments, but also engaged with them before handing off to the cornet, who takes a restrained turn of his own. Shining brightly, "Daughter and Sun," moves quickly with the horns and fluid piano and percussion, riding the ebbs and flows of this milti-layered composition. There's a majestic section for golden cornet and a well earned percussion solo, and a harmonized ending for clarinet and violin that is enchanting, framed by cornet and piano. "Welcome Hotel" has a punchy theme that is inviting, with some very cool piano added and witty cornet giving the whole performance a very fun and enjoyable vibe. A violin emerges to develop excellent interplay with the piano and the band as as a whole in a fine feature. The band delves into a very colorful and egalitarian collective improvisation that really displays their strength as a unit to close out this piece. The title track "Glitter Wolf" has bass heavy piano and plucked violin, creating a springboard for the band to create from in a wide range of patterns and matrices. Built around the spine of some wonderful piano playing, the music develops even further, growing even more colorful (Melford is just astonishing on this album) before breaking into a wonderfully cool percussion led section that is complex but fascinating in how it draws in whirling dervish like clarinet and cornet twirling the group in a vortex of sound. Glitter Wolf - amazon.com

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