Allison Miller – 2019 Monterey Jazz Festival Artist-in-Residence


  • Have their been allies along the way?  Yes. First and foremost, my parents: Jon and Ruthanna Miller.


  • Her mother, Ruthanna Miller, was a pianist and church choir director for three decades. Her father, Jon Miller, sang in that choir and was an audio engineer, photographer, painter and computer scientist.


  • Miller: “I was born in Texarkana, Texas, but grew up outside of D.C. My mom was a pianist so that’s how I started: piano and vocals. My mom wanted me to learn how to play the piano, before playing drums.”


  • Allison grew up with a mainframe computer in the basement, and sings “Purple Rain” and “Puff the Magic Dragon” as lullabies to her daughter, was taught to smoke cigars by her drum teacher when she was 12, and would kick her pregnant-with-her mother,  in time to the music, – when Mom was conducting the Church choir.

Bio’s and Reviews:


NYC-based drummer/composer/teacher Allison Miller gathers inspiration from a wide array of genres. Coming from the Jazz tradition, she engages her deep roots in improvisation as a vehicle to explore all music. Described by critics as a charismatic and rhythmically propulsive drummer with melodic sensibility, Miller has been named “Rising Star Drummer” and “Top 20 Jazz Drummers” in Downbeat Magazine’s acclaimed Critics Poll. Her band, Boom Tic Boom, is a 2014 recipient of Chamber Music America’s “Presenter Consortium for Jazz Grant” and is proudly sponsored by Mid- Atlantic Arts Foundation.

Boom Tic Boom, featuring pianist Myra Melford, violinist Jenny Scheinman, clarinetist Ben Goldberg, cornet player Kirk Knuffke, bassist Todd Sickafoose, and Miller on drums and composition, is currently celebrating it’s fourth release, Otis was a Polar Bear (2016, RPF). The New York Times says, “(Otis was a Polar Bear) is a smart, engaging new album.”

Previous releases include 5am Stroll (2005), Boom Tic Boom (2010), Live at Willisau (2012), and No Morphine No Lilies (2013) -“No Morphine No Lilies demonstrates that her (Allison Miller) craftiness as a percussionist is met by her ingenuity as a composer and group conceptualist.” -The New Yorker.

Boom Tic Boom has been met with critical acclaim receiving 4.5 stars from Downbeat and making “Top 10 Jazz Albums” lists for Downbeat, The LA Times, Jazz Journalists Association, and Something Else. The band has been featured on WNYC’s New Sounds with John Schaefer, NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series with Bob Boilen, JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater, The Checkout: Live with Josh Jackson, and festivals such as Stanford Jazz, SF Jazz, Willisau, Saalfelden, Iowa City Jazz, Reykjavik Jazz, Ear Shot-Seattle, Mary Lou Williams- Kennedy Center, Edgefest, Mass Moca, Pioneer Valley, and Redwood Jazz Alliance.

While breaking from band leading, Miller focuses on collaborations, co-directing

Celebrate and Holler and Bam with Toshi Reagon, Honey Ear Trio with Jeff Lederer and Rene Hart, Speak with Rachna Nivas and Michelle Dorrance, And Still You Must Swing with Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, and Ink with Camille A. Brown. She is also a proud member of the Bessie award winning show, The Blues Project with Dorrance Dance and Toshi Reagon’s Big Lovely.

As a side-musician, Miller has been the rhythmic force behind such mainstream artists as Ani DiFranco, Natalie Merchant, Brandi Carlile, Toshi Reagon, Joey Arias, theMeredith Vieira Show, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Pino Daniele, Erin McKeown, Jill Sobule, and Martha Redbone; and her jazz skills have been embraced by everyone from organ legend Dr. Lonnie Smith and vocalist Patricia Barber to avant-garde trailblazer Marty Ehrlich, Steven Bernstein, Ben Allison, Steve Cardenas, and Ben Goldberg.

Miller is a three time Jazz Ambassador of the US State Department and is on Yamaha’s Top 30 Clinicians List. She conducts clinics and master classes throughout the world and teaches at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, Stanford Jazz Workshop, and Jazz Camp West. Her lessons and writings have been published in The Huffington Post, Modern Drummer, Jazz Times, DRUM, Tom Tom, and Drummer UK.

In 2008 Miller founded the Walter Salb Memorial Musical Scholarship Foundation in honor of her late teacher and mentor. The foundation annually provides a monetary award to a promising young musician directed toward furthering their studies in music.

Miller endorses Yamaha drums, Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, and Evans drumheads.

“No Morphine, No Lilies, the third album by drummer Allison Miller’s Boom tic boom, reveals her exemplary chops and stylistic breadth.” Ted Panken, Downbeat

“Miller offers percussion that is powerful when it needs to be and tasteful when appropriate” – Bob Karlovits, The Pittsburgh Tribune

“No Morphine No Lilies is by turns a dazzling, delightful, and challenging exercise led by not only one of the finest drummers on the scene, but also one of the most innovative compositional voices.” – Tom Jurek

“Allison is a refreshingly honest player. She plays as she is, which is great because she is such an open-hearted, humble, graceful person.” – Ani DiFranco

“Young, muss-haired drummer, Allison Miller, defies physics and bends time.” – Kitty Empire, The London Observer

“The newest addition to the band, drummer Allison Miller, stole the stage, playing with the authority of someone who has been with the group for years.” – Hugo Kugiya, The Seattle Times

“Miller establishes herself as a powerhouse jazz drummer and composer on her second album as a leader… she is a drummer who knows her history. With more inspiring albums like this one, her standing as a relative rarity in her field could be history as well…Allison Miller stakes a claim to being one of the most promising drummers in the game.” – Chris Barton, LA Times

“BOOM TIC BOOM is a fully integrated effort involving all its participants, proving that Miller knows what it takes to spearhead a successful session.” – Robert L. Doerschuk, DRUM

“Miller’s intuitive grasp of Melford, and especially Sickafoose, alchemize this latest outing into sonic gold.” – Andrew Lentz, DRUM

“Employing precise brush control, shifting time signatures, lightning-fast fills, and the chops of a lifelong learner, Miller’s BOOM TIC BOOM comes knocking as one of the best jazz releases of 2010.” – Shannon Holliday,

“Miller’s music is infectious. Its multiple chorus structure brings with it an orientation that is unselfish. The character of her drumming is positive and sensitive to timbre.” – Lyn Horton,

“A recent gig with Marty Ehrlich offered up one extended moment of true rapture; [Allison Miller] made a leap in eloquence over the past year, adding poetic touches to a skill set of craft that has always been impressive.” – Jim Macnie

“Her quartet’s performance winningly underscored her talent for playing, composing and arranging.” – Mike Joyce, The Washington Post

“Allison Miller… She can play! It was groovy; it was funky; She was in the pocket.” – George Duke, Jazz Times

“The superb drumming of relative newcomer, Allison Miller, reveals that high- quality talent continues to flow into the jazz mainstream.” – Don Heckman, LA Times

“Allison Miller is one of the most exciting percussive people on the music scene today.” –
Kirk Silsbee, LA Scene

“Her recent work reveals Allison to be an intense and masterful jazz improviser who has developed her own approach along with a distinctive and inspirational drum sound.” – Tim Price, Saxophone Journal

“Miller is a drummer of fierce clarity and bold imagination.” – John Fordham, The London Guardian

“Always following her ideas through with clear, compositional vision, Miller is smart and swinging.” – Jeff Potter


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