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Savion Glover, Tappin' Into Monk, at Jazz at Lincoln Center

by Susan Weinrebe
October 28, 2005
Jazz at Lincoln Center
33 West 60 Street, Floor 11
New York, NY 10023
(212) 258-9800

Savion Glover, Tappin' Into Monk, at Jazz at Lincoln Center

Jazz In Motion: Tappin' Into Monk
Featuring
Savion Glover
With Special Guests
Ted Nash, Tenor Saxophone
Cyrus Chestnut, Piano
Gerald Cannon, Bass
Herlin Riley, Drums
At
Rose Theater
Frederick P. Rose Hall
Lincoln Center
www.jalc.org

Susan Weinrebe
October 28, 2005


(See Savion Glover at JALC November 3, 2004).

Sitting in the coolly chic Rose Hall Theater, I looked around the crowd that had paid upwards of $100 a ticket for the privilege of seeing Savion Glover tap to the tunes of Thelonius Monk. It was a mixed audience, some old, some new, some looking hip, some blue.

Apparently a couple of them were on a tight schedule that night because they started to clap, demonstrating their irritation when the show did not begin promptly at 8:00. But before the dudes turned rowdy, the quartet came on stage, welcomed us to the House of Swing and started to warm up the audience.

I wish Mr. Chestnut had been positioned so his back was not to the audience! Maybe watching the bit of key boarding that could be seen rather than his face decided the piano placement.

After a bit of jazzy business, Savion came out dressed in loose charcoal slacks and untucked tee shirts. He worked it out on an amplified floorboard that resounded with the driving taps of his boots, which he periodically had to rezip during little breaks. By the end of the evening I stopped counting how often those boots got pile driven open.

To the tunes of Shuffleboard, Misterioso, Bright Mississippi, In Walked Bud, and many more pieces, Savion seemed to improvise his combinations. Unlike any other tapper I've seen, he exudes a style all his own. Using little upper body movement and virtually no arms, the old vaudeville or "buck and wing" styling is nowhere to be seen in his dancing. His rapid-fire footwork is too fast to keep track of individual taps, furiously melding into a mass of percussive sound that is, itself, the fifth instrument on stage.

By intermission, he was wet to the waist and often used towels, stashed on top of speakers to mop his face. Mr. Glover also seemed to have loosened up and frequently stood back smiling as the musicians took solo turns which he did or did not accompany with his own instrument - his feet, as it seemed to move him.

Particularly engaging bits that stood out in the evening's routines, combined the percussion of Savion's taps with the rubbing of an old-fashioned washboard and later, a tambourine. Herlin Riley, who played both of these duets with Glover, seemed to relish the interaction and showed some stepping of his own as he found his own groove at the front of the stage. In fact, he and Savion set up a call and response format with his tambourine rhythms and Glover's tapping that appeared to delight both performers and certainly the audience.

The rest of the quartet performed capably with riffs on song themes, the smoky, woozy sax voice, piano trills aggressive or teasing out the notes, and mellow bass tones anchoring them all.

Two younger tappers, who were not mentioned in the program, were brought on stage and showed what they could do. Maurice Chestnut, one young tapper, is most likely related to pianist, Cyrus Chestnut. Both tappers stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Savion and together danced a choreographed routine.

Then, each of the up and comers got the nod to take a solo turn and show their stuff. They called each other out to best what the other had just done in a friendly battle of the dancers as Glover looked on seemingly with proud mentorship.

The jazz loving crowd surged to their feet, mollified after the late start. With the clubby atmosphere created by the quartet and the lagniappe of two unannounced performers, anyone who had come to see the premiere tapper in the world, got their money's worth and more.

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