TERRY GROSS, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. In the 10 years drummer Allison Miller has been leading her band Boom Tic Boom, it's grown from a trio to a quartet to a sextet. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says with their new CD, the band is hitting its stride.
(SOUNDBITE OF ALLISON MILLER'S BOOM TIC BOOM'S "MALAGA")
KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: All the parts fit together like clockwork on Allison Miller's new album "Glitter Wolf." The cogs all mesh and keep good time. The snugly interlocking parts mirror the several long-term working relationships among its players. Miller's sextet Boom Tic Boom is built from the rhythm section up. Todd Sickafoose is on bass. On piano is Myra Melford, who's percussive and incisive and lets some Latin inflections come out.
(SOUNDBITE OF ALLISON MILLER'S BOOM TIC BOOM'S "GLITTER WOLF")
WHITEHEAD: Boom Tic Boom's frontline is Jenny Scheinman on violin, Ben Goldberg on clarinets and Kirk Knuffke on cornet. They mix well in a variety of vibrant color combinations. A few discrete overdubs of harmonium and tune percussion extend the palate. And Ben Goldberg sometimes sneaks in on the ultra-low contra-alto clarinet.
(SOUNDBITE OF ALLISON MILLER'S BOOM TIC BOOM'S "DAUGHTER AND SUN")
WHITEHEAD: Allison Miller writes catchy, poppy melodies but doesn't stop there. Pieces can slalom through a few textures or episodes. The mixing can be audacious. Miller's composition "Welcome Hotel" places Jenny Scheinman's fiddle over a Jamaican reggae beat and bursts of Afro-Cuban piano.
(SOUNDBITE OF ALLISON MILLER'S BOOM TIC BOOM'S "WELCOME HOTEL")
WHITEHEAD: Allison Miller's big-beat drumming is as close to rock as to jazz, adding to the hybrid mix. Jazz musicians have always been mad mixers. Duke Ellington mashed up the blues, an old hymn and the Chopin "Funeral March" in 1927. Boom Tic Boom's instrumentation is close to some of the first jazz bands with cornet, clarinet and violin in the front line. Miller's "The Ride" evokes New Orleans-style collective improvising and local beats. Kirk Knuffke testifies on cornet.
(SOUNDBITE OF ALLISON MILLER'S BOOM TIC BOOM SONG, "THE RIDE")
WHITEHEAD: The soloists are all in fine fettle on Allison Miller's "Glitter Wolf." You can hear how much her crew enjoy playing this music. Everyone's having a lark. That kind of positive vibe can rub off on listeners, too.
(SOUNDBITE OF ALLISON MILLER'S BOOM TIC BOOM SONG, "CONGRATULATIONS AND CONDOLENCES")
GROSS: Kevin Whitehead writes for Point of Departure and The Audio Beat. He reviewed the new album "Glitter Wolf" by drummer Allison Miller's sextet Boom Tic Boom. After we take a short break, Justin Chang will review "Transit" by the German director Christian Petzold, who also made "Barbara" and "Phoenix." This is FRESH AIR.
(SOUNDBITE OF GERALD CLAYTON SONG, "SOUL STOMP") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.