[Dixielandjazz] Is "Tap" OKOM?

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Thu Dec 22 07:04:05 PST 2005

Is tap OKOM? Perhaps, at least for the drummers on the list.


Tonight's Supplemental Percussionist: Master of Tap

By JOHN ROCKWELL - December 22, 2005 - NY Times

Savion Glover's most prominent New York appearances this year have found him
earnestly trying to vary his routine - and, maybe, to win tap-dancing some
highfalutin respect. First there was his "Classical Savion" program in
January at the Joyce Theater, absolutely brilliant at its best (the opening
Vivaldi). Then came his appearance at American Ballet Theater's gala at the
Metropolitan Opera House in May. For that one, he wittily even sort of went
on toe.

But now, for his four-week winter engagement at the Joyce - his longest
there yet - Mr. Glover is back doing what he's best known for, tapping and
improvising with jazz musicians. Tuesday night's opening was a little
underpopulated, for obvious transit reasons, but the audience made up in
enthusiasm what it lacked in packed-to-the-rafters numbers.

Tap has a venerable history, and Mr. Glover, its reigning virtuoso and star,
is always good at acknowledging his past. That said, his signature style -
loud, percussive tapping, rapid roulades augmenting, answering and
challenging the musicians - can seem a little repetitious. No wonder he has
sought variety.

The current show, suitable for the season, is called "Visions of a Bible."
Aside from his four-man jazz combo, the Otherz, he has Lori Ann Hunter, who
sings soulful, religious-themed songs. The last scene of the
intermissionless show is also called "Visions of a Bible," and among other
reiterated phrases are the title and "a love supreme," in homage to John

Whether it included tributes to past tap masters - Mr. Glover's own personal
artistic bible - I cannot say. But it was the best number of the night
because it seemed the loosest, the most exploratory. It seemed as if Mr.
Glover, who had looked a little stiff before, was stretching out playfully
with Ms. Hunter and the instrumentalists.

Tap, or Mr. Glover's tap, is more aural than visual (despite the elegant
jazz-club lighting, attributed to Mr. Glover and the Joyce staff), more
musical than terpsichorean. In other words, he looks the way he looks:
Rastafarian hair tied in a knot; a blue work shirt, not tucked in; an
undershirt; a beaded necklace; and black tap shoes. He hunches over and taps
away, industriously, sometimes flailing his arms at climactic moments and
occasionally smiling. He has talked before, but he didn't on Tuesday.

So the greater pleasure lies in the musical interaction of the tapping as
supplementary, if dominant, percussion to the quartet of piano, bass, drums
and winds. Even his solos are musical.

Savion Glover's "Visions of a Bible" continues through Jan. 15 at the Joyce
Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, at 19th Street, Chelsea, (212) 242-0800.

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