Renowned jazz drummer, composer, teacher and bandleader Allison Miller is back with a new album, the first since 2013’s acclaimed No Morphine, No Lilies. Alongside a top notch band in Boom Tic Boom, Otis Was a Polar Bear catches Miller at a watershed moment in her life, not just as a growing musician, but now as a parent. Drawing great inspiration from her daughter Josie, Miller explains the departure from her last album to this most recent studio effort. “The last record was about such intense hardship and pain. This record is the other side of all that—it’s the beauty that comes after a storm.”The album opens with the bright, sultry Latin flair of Ben Goldberg’s charming clarinet play on “Fuster.” Inspired by Cuban artist José Rodríguez Fuster, the composition has its origins rooted in everyday life, this particular track, an unshakable melody Miller had sung to Josie in the first weeks of her life. Likewise, “Hoarding the Pod” comes from an over-caffeinated state during a recording session with Natalie Merchant. Its frantic, supercharged intro takes a backseat to a mellow groove supplied by Miller, finally giving way to the controlled chaos of Jenny Scheinman’s violin boiling over, Kirk Knuffke’s cornet beaming and Myra Melford making it rain piano keys.With a beautiful and thoughtful pairing of “The Listener” and “Lullaby For Cookie,” Miller delicately bridges the gap between life and death, the former written for a music-obsessed friend who died suddenly, while the latter was written for Miller’s daughter Josie before her birth. Miller’s relatively minimalist approach on these arrangements packs a significant punch.The album’s title track, “Otis Was a Polar Bear” evokes great imagery, not unlike the Melford-lead “Pig In A Sidecar” or “Shimmer.” Scheinman’s playful strokes and plucks on “Otis” are accented by Knuffke’s and Goldberg’s summit of brass and woodwinds while Miller and upright bassist Todd Sickafoose fill out a highly active and invigorated rhythm section.“Slow Jam” certainly lives up to its name. Miller’s simple, elegant groove is guided through the slow burner by a steady bass line and fantastic interplay with Melford and Knuffke. Miller’s final selection,”Staten Island,” was written after the tragic killing of Eric Garner by Staten Island police. “I sat down at the piano feeling hopeless and filled with rage. This is what came out,” Miller says. As in the case of Garner, there are a lot of moving parts to this track. Scattered flurries from Goldberg’s clarinet are mirrored by Milford’s frenzied piano before Miller is finally set off like a stick of dynamite into a righteous rock groove. When the groove begins its descent it’s left with only the sombre notes of Knuffke’s waning cornet.From traditional rock and jazz themes to the avant-garde variety, Allison Miller’s Otis Was a Polar Bear will present something of significance for the ear of any listener, whether the casual jazz fan or the most hardcore fan of fusion. Her chops are undeniable as is her ability to compose and elevate the separate links of her band in a way that reflects a focused and unrestrained sound.Otis Was a Polar Bear is set for release April 8 on Royal Potato Family. You can watch a behind the scenes video on the making of the album below, and don’t forget to check out Miller’s upcoming tour dates, as she and Boom Tic Boom will be out on the road this coming spring.Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom Spring 2016 Tour4/8 Seattle, WA @ Royal Room 4/9 Portland, OR @ Alberta St. Pub4/10 Arcata, CA @ Kate Buchanan Room HSU 4/14 Santa Cruz, CA @ Kuumbwa4/15 Los Angeles, CA @ The Blue Whale4/16 Berekely, CA @ Freight and Salvage4/17 Half Moon Bay, CA @ Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society4/27 Bloomsburg, PA @ Bloomsburg University4/28 Erie, PA @ Mercyhurst Institute for Arts and Culture: Walker Recital Hall4/29 Lewisburg, WV @ Carnegie Hall4/30 Roanoke, VA @ Jazz Club at Jefferson Center5/1 Baltimore, MD @ Creative Alliance5/3 Charlottesville, VA @ Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church5/5 New York, NY @ Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola5/6 New Haven, CT @ Firehouse 125/7 North Adams, MA @ MASS MoCA5/8 Goshen, MA @ Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares: Institute for the Musical Arts5/13 Philadelphia, PA @ Ars Nova Workshop: Philadelphia Art Alliance5/14 Washington, DC @ Kennedy Center: 21st Annual Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival7/1 Iowa City, IA @ Iowa City Jazz Festival
Energy fuels innovation and Harvard’s growing innovation corridor in Allston is going to need an energy system as advanced as the cutting-edge research being conducted up and down Western Avenue. To meet this challenge, the University has designed a lower-carbon, climate resistant, and highly efficient district energy facility (DEF) that’s beginning to take shape behind the rising steel of the new Science and Engineering Complex (SEC).The 58,000 square foot facility will provide a reliable source of heating, cooling, and electricity to support Harvard’s academic and research activities being planned for Allston. Because they act as an in-house utility dedicated to serving campus buildings, facilities of this type also have an outsized impact on a campus’s greenhouse gas emissions footprint.How they are designed matters.A noteworthy element of the new DEF will be a 1.3-million-gallon tank for storing chilled water that will be used to cool buildings with some limited other applications to support research. The tank is analogous to an enormous battery because the chilled water will be produced and stored during off-peak hours, typically nights and weekends, when electricity is cheaper and less-polluting. It can then be used during the daytime when needed, lowering the burden on the power grid during peak times. With a total capacity equivalent to 9 megawatt hours the thermal storage tank is believed to be the largest such system in Massachusetts.A climate resiliency pilot study of the Allston campus performed by Harvard’s planning department identified that future flooding would pose a significant risk for the basement location of the energy facility that was included in the original design of the SEC. In response, Harvard re-located the DEF to an alternative above-grade location that will improve resiliency and reliability (the building is raised above projected flood levels and does not contain a basement).The Allston DEF is also being built with the future in mind. It has been designed to be as flexible as possible so emerging technologies can be incorporated over time as the University works towards its climate action goals to be fossil fuel-free by 2050 and fossil fuel-neutral by 2026.In describing the new facility, the project team emphasizes that flexibility was a key consideration. By employing a wide range of technologies, the heating, cooling, and electricity mix being delivered to the Allston campus can be optimized based on external conditions and energy demand. As low and zero carbon technologies are tested and proven, they can be evaluated for incorporation into the new DEF because of its flexible design. This approach will also allow Harvard and others to test innovative new ideas for reducing fossil fuel emissions from district energy systems.Beyond producing its own heating, cooling, and electricity, the DEF will also take electricity from the regional grid and distribute it to the Allston campus through a new microgrid similar to other ones that are already in place across campus. Read Full Story
Although FlixBus has been on the Croatian market for just over a year, it has become a pioneer in the number of transported passengers. Compared to the summer months of 2016, FlixBus has tripled the number of passengers this season, and the positive trend is also felt globally.Along with the capital Zagreb, the most popular destinations for FlixBus passengers this season were Split, while Rijeka and Pula climbed high on the list of popular destinations. Although the rest of Europe has long embraced this way of traveling, in Croatia FlixBus was just the beginning of all digital newspapers on the market in the traditional bus industry. Travel planning and buying tickets via smartphones, passenger identification via QR code of the purchased online ticket, a network of lines connecting 26 European countries and more than 1.200 destinations available to everyone via a free mobile application or website, passengers are provided with free Wi-Fi, sockets next to the seats, more space between the seats, free luggage, are just part of the travel process that new generations of passengers have embraced from the very beginning.Most passengers are from Germany and Austria, and FlixBus is mostly used by the 18-35 age groupAccording to FlixBus, most tourists come to Croatia, mostly from Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. “Italy and Slovakia were a complete success this year, primarily because before the summer season we managed to connect Zagreb and Pula with Bratislava and many Italian destinations with Istria. As expected, the top destinations of FlixBus users are the cities in Dalmatia, where Split, Zadar and Šibenik are in the lead. However, we have noticed that trends are changing and we are recording an increase in the number of passengers to Istria and Kvarner, especially from Germany and Austria. The age group that uses our green buses the most is the one between 18-35 years old. Our passengers seek experience, inspiration, but also safety and quality. ” points out Petra Milanović, public relations manager for FlixBus CEE.FlixBus has created the largest international network of lines throughout Europe with over 200.000 daily connections, through 26 European countries in 1.200 destinations, and precisely with a well-developed network of bus lines and connecting destinations across Europe FlixBus makes it easier for tourists to come to Croatia. In the rest of Europe, FlixBus has long been synonymous with bus travel, so positioning and connecting with Croatia is certainly important for our tourism. “It is interesting to note that the length of the trip itself is not an obstacle to traveling by bus and that they focus more on reasonable prices and ease of buying tickets as well as on the service during the trip. And it is precisely technological innovations (FlixBus mobile application, sockets, free internet, integration into Google maps, QR code instead of maps) that make the FlixBus model easily acceptable and “drinkable”Concludes Milanović.By the way, FlixBus expects more than 100 million passengers transported across Europe by the end of the year. The question is how many we can bring to Croatia, especially outside the tourist season. The tools and opportunities are there, and it is up to us to make the most of them.
Ghana Premier League side, Liberty Professionals organized a clean up exercise for the Shukura Community Hospital in celebration of the Chief Executive Officer’s birthday, Linda Ansong.After the clean-up exercise, the team donated some items to the hospital and also adopted the male ward of the hospital for renovation.Speaking in an exclusive with Citi Sports, the CEO disclosed that the move is a part of the club’s corporate social responsibility. “This project is basically our corporae social responsibility and I am glad we could do this on my birthday.Linda Ansong also disclosed the club has adopted the Shukura Community Hospital now officially called St. Martin’s Memorial Hospital and will support its project as best as they can.“God has brought this club far, therefore, we as a club have adopted this hospital and as such, we brought some items to help support the daily activities that go on here.We have also adopted the male ward for renovation and we have already started by painting the walls of the room.”
The B&H women’s tennis team will meet today with Georgia in the match of the third round of Group II of the Euro-African Zone Fed Cup.The B&H tennis players celebrated in the first two rounds of the tournament in the Lithuanian city of Siauliai by beating South Africa and Egypt, and they will play against Georgia today for the first place in the group. Georgia also remains undefeated.Both teams fought for an appearance in the play-off for placement in the first group of the Euro-African Zone. The teams of Liechtenstein and Finland secured their place in the A-Group placement in the play-off, and are also meeting today in a match for first place.After these matches, the doubles play-offs and the play-out will be known, which will decide which two teams will be relegated to a lower ranking of the competition.(Source: Fena/Photo: Twitter)