[15 April 2013]
Allison Miller might have made her name with her pop drumming, but she’s pushing herself furthest in her jazz. No Morphine, No Lilies her second album with her Boom Tic Boom partners, shows her exploring not just on individual tracks but across the course of a full album (the way she wishes it to be heard). The album gives each of the members showcases, such as pianist Myra Melford’s run on opener “Pork Belly”, one of the disc’s highlight. Even so, it’s typically at its best when Miller’s drumming gets the spotlight. Part of what makes “Pork Belly” a remarkable track is the give and take between Miller’s speedy work (covered by more chordal playing) and Melford’s energetic flights. The more the quartet pushes itself, the better it sounds, which means more subtle tracks like Jessica Lurie’s “Once” or the subdued but tonally odd “Spotswood Drive” affect the album’s flow in unintended ways (good song or not, I’m not convinced “Once” should be on this particular album, working better on Lurie’s Megaphone Heart). Fortunately “Nuh-Uh, No Sir” closes the album with a reminder that this group can be adventurous in chasing a unique vision.