Review: Glover, DeJohnette provide fresh look at rhythm at Manchester Craftsmen's Guild
Jazz followed the beat of a different dancer Friday evening at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild on the North Side.
Oh, and a drummer had a great deal to do with it.
Dancer/choreographer Savion Glover and drummer Jack DeJohnette were at the heart of one of the freshest, most original jazz concerts here in decades.
It was a look, simply, at rhythm. But being done by Glover and DeJohnette, it was an examination at the doctoral level.
It is easy to understand. Glover is the man who created “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk”, did the animation motion capture for the film “Happy Feet” and, right now, is working on a new Broadway production, “Shuffle Along,” with Pittsburgh native Billy Porter.
Drummer DeJohnette was on the seminal “Bitches Brew” album, is the stick-man in the Keith Jarrett Trio and tours in various-shaped bands of his own.
Talents at this level know what they are doing.
The concert took three, basically equal stages: a 25-minute solo dance exhibition by Glover, a performance by the DeJohnette trio, and a duet by the dancer and the drummer.
Although it was overwhelmed by the dance work, the trio performed two edgy tunes that put it at the same creative level as the rhythm mongers. Doing DeJohnette's “Blue” and keyboardist George Colligan's “Song for the Tarahumera,” it was lively and fresh, backed up by Jerome Harris on electric bass.
Colligan offered good, aggressive play on his tune and played moody, pocket trumpet on the drummer's number.
But the dancing — and drumming — was the most stunning work of the night.
In his solo section, Glover wandered on stage, carrying a water bottle that he laid on a music stand. Then, casually looking at his feet, he seemed be wondering why they were behaving that way.
His form of tap also includes heavy heel that almost are like a pedal subwoofer, creating deep bass sounds. He also gets forceful sounds from his flat-footed stomps.
In his solo spot, he did spins where one foot became a pivot while the other beat out steps. He created sounds that ranged from military drumming to one section that seemed like a horse that was trotting in a groove.
At one point, his left foot rapped out a pattern while he scraped a smoother line with his right.
While his solo show drew a standing ovation, the duet was DeJohnette was even more spectacular. It opened with a simple exchange of rhythmic ideas. But that call-and-response got more complicated as it went along.
Ultimately, DeJohnette started accompanying Glover, but it wasn't he simply following the dancer. They played off each other so well, they seemed to be predicting each other's thoughts.
There were times when Glover seemed to know exactly where the drummer was headed simply by watching his hands; similarly , DeJohnette could predict an explosion from the dancer by studying his feet.
This is the freshness that keeps jazz alive.
Bob Karlovits is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.