Allison Miller and Carmen Staaf, Science Fair (Sunnyside)
Pianist Staaf and drummer Miller pool their experience and talents in an album that also has superior performances by three guest artists with impressive track records of their own. Firmly established in the New York City jazz milieu, Miller and Staaf welcome bassist Matt Penman, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens. The tune list encompasses several compositions by each of the co-leaders. Miller’s opening “What?!” has her chattering drums leading into a vigorous display of Akinmusire’s trumpet kaleidoscopy (a word created for the occasion) and Stephens’ slightly more subdued but no less adventurous tenor solo. The temperature drops for Staaf’s brief piano reflections on the tune, but by the time her “MLW” comes up nearly halfway through the album, It becomes clear that the heat is unlikely to be off for long. Nor is it. The album is stimulating, satisfying and extremely musical.