I hadn’t heard of Miller–who is a drummer primarily in jazz circles. Although the blurb says that she has also played live with Ani DiFranco so it’s very possible that I saw her play a decade or so ago.
But this band is all about the jazz. The quartet has an upright bass, piano, sax and of course Miller’s drums and percussion.
And yet for a band which has her name in it, the drums and percussion are not very prominent. This was a little disappointing as I wanted to hear some wild percussion, it also makes sense since she’s writing these tunes with melodies in mind.
They play three songs. “Big And Lovely” is primarily a sax song with a few moments of piano playing by itself. The drums are certainly present but they don’t seem like the centerpiece of this song (and I gather they are not meant to). It is fun to watch Miller play, though—jazz drummers really do seem to smile a lot more than rock drummers. This was written for Miller’s friend, musician and activist Toshi Reagon. During the end of the song—when it’s just bass and piano, Miller breaks out all kinds of bells and percussion which is neat.
“Spotswood Drive” is where a man named Walter Salb once lived; “he was a beloved and respected drummer, and by most accounts a larger-than-life character. His 2006 Washington Post obituary ran with the headline ‘Drum Teacher Was Scurrilous, Rude — and Greatly Admired.'” Salb was her drum teacher. She says he was a “mentor and great guy… sometimes great guy.” The blurb tells us that “Salb’s mentorship remains so important that Miller started a scholarship fund in his name, and recently dedicated a new tune to him — a searching, slow-burning meditation with lots of percussive coloring between the lines.” It’s a slow song with lots of interesting percussion which sadly doesn’t really make it to the forefront in the song. There are gongs and bells and other interesting things—its fun to see Miller scrambling around back there to grab different items. A few minutes in, there’s a cool bass line (which I’d also like to be louder) that rides under the sax.
She introduces “The Itch” by saying “There’s a story behind this too, (laughter) it’s a little personal…” Bob says you can stop there. This was my favorite of the songs. It opens with a Miller playing the floor tom—but the floor tom has all kinds of things on it—a cymbal, bells, a gong of some sort and she hits them all while keeping rhythm on the tom. Then she gets to do some really snappy drumming—nice paradiddles and whatnot. It was a little funny to watch the sax player just standing there watching her for the first minute and a half before joining in. After she gets a rhythm going the bass joins in. The sax and keyboard lines are interesting and a little wonky sounding. There’s some piano soloing and then a dissonant section with the sax and the keys playing off of each other.
Overall, this was an enjoyable set.
[READ: March 18, 2016] Squish #6
This book is about admitting to your fears. Everybody in town wants to go see The Water Bear, a scary horror movie–with a great scary poster. It’s all anyone can talk about.
When they finally get to the movie, I love that the first scare is a cat jumping out at you (classic horror movie trope). But then everyone is terrified by the genuinely frightening Water Bear. A footnote informs us that the Water Bear is entirely real. Fortunately, it is also only 1 mm long (click if you dare)
The movie is super scary and Squish is terrified for days afterward. However, his friend Pod thought it was cool and Peggy thought the kitty was cute (Squish notes that it was cute until it got eaten).
Meanwhile in Squish’s Super Amoeba comics, the city of Small Pond is being attacked by an enemy which Super Amoeba can’t see. I like how these comics always relate to Squish’s story in someway.
The next day, Pod invites Squish over to watch the DVD of the prequel to Water Bear which has footage that was too scary to show in the theaters! Squish is petty freaked by the end.
Two months later the new Water Bear movie is coming out. Squish still hasn’t recovered from the last one–he jumps at every corner.
He is really afraid to go to the movie and he wants to tell everyone that he’s afraid, but he starts imagining that everyone will call him chicken.
His dad gives him advice (which hilariously becomes useful after the fact). But he needs to know if should admit to being scared.
And just how is Super Amoeba going to fight his invisible foe?
And there’s a funny last panel punch line too.
The very end of the book includes another science project–the mystery box in which kids use all their senses by trying to figure out what something is in the box.
I really enjoy the Squish books. I love that they are funny, but also thoughtful and full of science!