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Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom: Otis Was a Polar Bear

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The cutesy title of Otis Was a Polar Bear, the third album by drummer-composer Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom sextet, is not an anomaly. Inspired by the birth of Miller’s first child, the album exudes preciousness throughout. It seems to want to capture the spirit of children’s music-and unfortunately it’s all too successful.

It starts off splendidly. The opening “Fuster” sets a delightfully complex melody and playful solos by clarinetist Ben Goldberg and violinist Jenny Scheinman atop pianist Myra Melford’s Cuban guajeo line and Miller and bassist Todd Sickafoose’s clave. But by the next tune, “High T,” trouble is afoot: Its stuttering 6/4 and cornetist Kirk Knuffke’s counterpoint, against Goldberg, Scheinman (pizzicato) and Melford, suggests multiple music boxes playing out of sync. It’s clever but cloying, the latter more than the former.

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