Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009


Savion Glover’s All FuNK’d Up, The Concert at the Schnitz / Preview

By MICHAEL "SHOEHORN" CONLEY // See tapdancer Savion Glover April 9th and 10th, 2019 Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland

Anyone who tap dances or is interested in percussive dance (or percussion, period) has a fine reason to go out this week, as the great Savion Glover is coming back to town, courtesy of White Bird Dance. Glover's mentor, the late Gregory Hines, said that “Savion is possibly the best  tap dancer that ever lived”. I think we can take his word for it!  A child star on Broadway, Glover was known to absorb older artists’ steps and stylistic devices when he was a teen, before busting out with his own signature thing in his early twenties with the theatrical hit “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk”, which won him a Tony Award for choreography and toured widely.

Glover is bringing a band with him, along with some guest dancers. It will be interesting to observe whether he continues to do his long-form improvisations, often stretching a tune out to 15 or 20 minutes, or if he will present  shorter numbers with a tighter focus. With those longer solos, Glover spearheaded a new movement in tap dancing starting in early 1990s.

In his teen years, after his Broadway debut in “The Tap Dance Kid”, he was adopted by the “old hoofers” who were enjoying a late-career renaissance, including Henry LeTang, Jimmy Slyde, Lon Chaney, Chuck Green, Bunny Briggs, and others whom he performed with in “Black and Blue” on Broadway, and in the seminal 1989 dance movie “Tap”, starring Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Glover also was the lead in Spike Lee's movie “Bamboozled” a movie which did not enjoy wide appreciation, and made many viewers uncomfortable with it’s darkly cynical plot. His role on the Disney film “Happy Feet”  captured fast footwork Glover provided wearing a special suit in front of a green screen, so like other actors working in animated features, his work extends beyond the public’s facial recognition.

Other notable credits include portraying the young Jelly Roll Morton in George C.Wolfe’s “Jelly's Last Jam” on Broadway,  and numerous television appearances starting as a teen on “Sesame Street”.

Glover now runs the HooFeRz CLuB, a tap dance school he founded in 2006 in his native Newark New Jersey, close to New York City. He has also toured with prominent jazz artist Jack DeJohnette, with whom he performed a duet in tribute to Ornette Coleman at the NYC memorial for free jazz icon.

White Bird, the  local dance presenter, has brought some of Glover’s other shows to Portland in the past, including “Savion’s Classical”. For that production Glover performed with a jazz quartet augmented with a string section. That show incorporated classical themes such as Vivaldi's “Four Seasons” deconstructed by the musicians, all articulated by the by the extraordinary footwork Glover brings to everything he does.

I am looking forward to being amazed and inspired once again by Savion Glover, and applaud White Bird’s vision in repeatedly presenting this important artist. Beyond tap dance fanatics, anyone who loves improvised music is guaranteed to experience some stupendous chops, fascinating rhythms, and jaw-dropping virtuosity.

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