JAZZ TAP ORIGINALS is an anthology of original tap choreography, improvisation, and musical expression filmed live in concert by the Jazz Tap Ensemble from 1979 -2012.
As a founding member and later, Artistic Director of Jazz Tap Ensemble, it has been my pleasure and privilege to witness and participate in some of the most exciting creations of tap dance with live jazz to hit the concert stage. Now, after thirty years’ touring world wide in this collaborative innovation, I am compelled to gather just a few of the many incredible inventions made by myself, my colleagues, and our beloved guest artists.
With profound gratitude to each and every one who has contributed to this amazing artistic adventure, we dedicate this collection to the late Gregory Hines (1946 -2003), friend, mentor, and tap dancer extraordinaire!
|JTO 5 Disc Set Discs 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5
Disc 1 Blues Legacy: Blues, Rock, Be Bop & Monk…early influences
BLUES LEGACY tracks some of the groundbreaking work created by the six original members of the JTE (1979 -1983) including Lynn Dally’s “Sweet Blues” and later, Thelonius Monk’s ballad, “Round Midnight” and Miles Davis’ “All Blues,” Camden Richman & Tom Dannenberg’s rock inspired “Don’t Fade Away,” Fred Strickler’s “Tone Poem,” Dally-Richman duet “After Hours” filmed in London and San Francisco 1983, and later Derick K Grant & Sam Weber’s “Taxi” filmed in NY 1995, and Dally’s ensemble piece, Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma.” Also “Interplay” inspired by Jimmy Slyde from 2007 JTE tour of California in ‘American TAP Masterpieces.’
All footage was taped live in performance. Disc 1 Blues Legacy includes many complete pieces and extended excerpts along with some brief highlights such as Harold Nicholas’ finale with the Ensemble at the Joyce Theater in NYC, 1992.
|JTO Disc 1 “Blues Legacy”
Disc 2: Percussion Mania: African, Latin Jazz, Samba, Worldbeat, Body Music ™
We know that rhythm is the heart of tap dance. And there are so many different ways to share that beat. Percussion Mania is a collection of seven dances by six different choreographers in collaboration with five composers which only begins to express the possibilities. In solos, duos, and Ensemble pieces, each of these dances brings a fresh expression to the stage.
Percussion Mania includes: “Hands On” Sam Weber collaborates w/ drummer Jerry Kalaf and the Ensemble, “Rhythm-a-ning” the Monk classic as interpreted by Becky Aebersold w/ Jerry Kalaf on brushes, “Seven” improvisation by Channing Cook Homes solo & w/ the JTE Band,
“Drum” by Derick K Grant, & JTE percussion band, “Hey Rube” by Keith Terry w/ Camden Richman, Keith Terry & Paul Arslanian duo excerpt, “Summertime” excerpt rehearsal for Africa tour, B’Jon Carter contemporary rhythm tap improvisation.
|JTO Disc 1 “Blues Legacy”
Discs 3, 4, & 5 “Masters & Mentors”
Disc 3: Masters & Mentors: Rhythm Tap Legends
Jazz Tap Ensemble was very fortunate to have such rich relationships with the tap legends of our time. Every artist in Masters & Mentors worked directly with the company, touring and performing as special guest artists, mentoring, sharing stories and knowledge and friendships, creating new works for our repertory, and being truly supportive in so many ways.
This edition of “Masters & Mentors” opens with our very first mentor, Eddie Brown, rhythm master, improviser par excellence and teacher of so many dedicated tappers up and down the West Coast. A complete rendition of his “BS Chorus” is included, along with one of his signature solo appearances as well as excerpts from “Doxy” which he created for the JTE in his final years.
“In Walked Bud” by Thelonious Monk features living legend Brenda Bufalino, seen here as Guest Artist in 1992 with Lynn Dally at NY’s Joyce Theater and the classical side of tapmaster Sam Weber with pianist Jeff Colella is seen in audience favorite, “Bach.”
Bebop master, Jimmy Slyde, beloved in the worlds of jazz and tap, is at the height of his dancing powers in this solo set with the JTE band. In 1995, he inspired the creation of “Interplay” with the Ensemble, seen here in the NY premiere with the original cast Sam Weber, Derick K. Grant, Mark Mendonca, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Lainie Manning, and Lynn Dally with live band on stage led by JTE Musical Director, Jerry Kalaf, who created the score based on Slyde’s favorite signature tunes.
As curator of the collection, I named this disc “Rhythm Tap Legends.” Each of these artists brought us to a deeper understanding of the vitality and ever changing possibilities of rhythm tap dance.
|JTO Disc 3 “Masters & Mentors: Rhythm Tap Legends”
Disc 4: Masters & Mentors: The Entertainers
These legends reflect their backgrounds on Broadway and in film, which allows us to feature our reconstructions (mostly from film sources) in American TAP Masterpieces. Here we see Honi Coles on his 71st birthday at the Smithsonian’s Baird Auditorium and later in TV appearances as special guest w/ JTE. With his partner Cholly Atkins, they were the last of the great ‘class acts’ in vaudeville. And in the renaissance, he appeared frequently with partner Brenda Bufalino and the Copasetics. The renowned Nicholas Brothers appear separately here. Fayard briefly in a tribute to his brother Harold who had just passed the week they were scheduled to appear with JTE in LA at the Ford Theater. However, Harold guested with JTE several times in NY and thus we can present some of the most delicious footage of Harold’s singing, scatting, and dancing.
“American TAP Masterpieces” was a carefully thought out accumulation of commissions we received over the years, from the Maison de la Danse in Lyon, France, Palm Beach Festival, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the California Arts Council, to represent in live performance some of the finest choreographies and artists captured by Hollywood on film.
And thanks to Bill Irwin, actor, director, and clown extraordinaire, we have “Entrances & Exits” created by him for Sam Weber. These truly delightful ‘clown bits’ came to serve as the connectors between famous movie dances. (Bonus Track)
|JTO Disc 4 “Masters & Mentors: The Entertainers”
Disc 5: Masters & Mentors: Gregory Hines & Lynn Dally New Ideas
Disc 5 brings a close-up view of Gregory Hines, who first appeared with the JTE as Guest Artist in our official NY debut at the Joyce Theater in 1986. We did many projects together over the years including opening for him at the McCallum in Palm Desert, “Evening of Tap at Carnegie Hall”, where we were the only company to appear and where our band played for all the artists, and many live sessions at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles. He created a new work for us in 1999 and named it GROOVE. It reflected his own unique way of making things with ‘improvography’ at the center of his process.
Gregory was a major agent of change in the field of tap through his perception of what constituted musicality. He made a shift from his older jazz and Broadway roots (but with full knowledge) to a more contemporary funk beat. He coined the term ‘improvography’ to indicate the power of stating a rhythmic idea and then being able to follow it up in the moment. His ability to create new continuities and forms of expression with this approach enabled him to create a truly personal expression in tap. He influenced so many and was the most open minded, non judgemental, and supportive voice for the entire field.
SOLEA, my own cross cultural work, is a choreographic journey into four very grounded dance forms which meet at the crossroads of rhythm tap. Musically, the piece was inspired by Miles Davis “Sketches of Spain” and the song Solea which is a deeply expressive sometimes mournful 12 beat form in flamenco. The four stellar dancers in this cast, each a master of their own form, allowed me to create with their deep rhythmic knowledge and openness to experiment and to dance with each other. A Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography and documentary filmmaker John Bishop were the excellent facilitators in the making of SOLEA.
|JTO Disc 5 “Masters & Mentors: Gregory Hines & Lynn Dally New Ideas”