Monday, March 7, 2016

An Evening with Jack DeJohnette and Savion Glover

Savion Glover
Although the bulk of my time these days is spent in Portland either teaching or spending time with my family, I'm getting a few chances to travel and perform this year. A nice handful of those chances is with a project called, "An Evening with Jack DeJohnette and Savion Glover." Jazz musicians are most likely familiar with drumming icon DeJohnette, and hopefully you have at the very least heard of tap dance wizard Savion Glover. Mr. Glover may be best known for his work in "Bring in 'da Noise/Bring in 'da Funk", but he has been working on Broadway since his debut at 12 years of age in "The Tap Dance Kid." Gregory Hines, no slouch of a dancer himself, described Glover as " possibly the greatest tap dancer who has ever lived." Glover style is quite revolutionary, but at the same time pays homage to the past, and incorporates many different styles of music into his dance. If you've never witness the genius of Savion Glover, check out some youtube videos and you'll see what I mean by "revolutionary."

Jack DeJohnette

The first time we did this presentation was actually a few years ago; we did a one-off concert in Albany, NY at The Egg, a well known concert hall. Apparently, Mr. Glover really liked the unique collaboration and asked Mr. DeJohnette if they could take it on the road. We've had spot dates in the U.S. and there are some more upcoming in May and June. The show is in roughly four parts; Glover (and sometimes dance collaborator Marshall Davis) do a free form set, then the Jack DeJohnette Trio(including your truly and bassist Jerome Harris) do a set( fresh off a solo piano tour, DeJohnette has been playing more piano, which gives me an opportunity to play drums and pocket trumpet). Glover and DeJohnette will then do another duo set, and finally, I and Harris join them for a final number.

It's interesting because much of the show is totally improvised. One would assume that this could potentially turn off today's typical audience; however, we've had nothing but great responses at every show. The shows have typically run between two and a half to three hours; it seems as though the crowds are hungry for this type of energy. I've personally never witnessed any dancer with the stamina of Savion Glover; it seems as though his endurance has no limit. Furthermore, improvising with him is like improvising with another musician; he reacts with the same type of intuition and rhythmic interplay as an extremely hip drummer. ( As we discovered in a recent soundcheck, Mr. Glover can actually play the drum set more than excellently; hearing the drums from backstage, I
assumed it was Mr. DeJohnette on the drums until I walked back out to see differently!)

It's inspiring for me to be around people who are the best in the world. DeJohnette and Glover are more than the best; they are completely unique. One of the things that makes them unique is that they both have unlimited passion for creativity. It's a true privilege to witness it and to try to take the inspiration home with me. It's too bad we won't play in Portland, so my students will just have to take my word for it. I'm looking forward to more chances to be a part of this historic one of a kind collaboration  later this year.

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