and better: Savion Glover.
Mae G. Banner
Glover with Jimmy Slyde and Dianne Walker
Pillow, June 25
Seeing Savion Glover per- form alongside national treasures
Jimmy Slyde and Dianne Walker is like being inside a time
machine. You can see the ancients moving within Glover, and
you can see him becoming an honored ancient one day.
exhilarating—almost scary—to experience all that wisdom made
visible. Slyde, white-haired and debonair at 70- or maybe
80-something, danced effortlessly, out of deep reserves of
knowledge and skill. He joshed with the Jacob’s Pillow audience,
singing a little as he moved, and did that smooth signature
one-foot slide, which is so hip, across the floor.
Walker, who also has achieved a certain age, was quieter.
She was just as likely to stand at the side of the stage,
moving her torso subtly and to herself while Glover and his
four young protégés from Chapter IV hit, paddled and rolled.
But, when she stepped forward, her shoulders shrugged to a
jazz beat, her head nodded and her extended arms traced an
elegant embroidery in the air.
Slyde and Walker, two of Glover’s many mentors and repositories
of rhythm, anchored the line of dancers in group passages.
Glover, of course, was at the center, flanked by Maurice Chestnut,
Ashley DeForest, and the 15-year-old wonder, Cartier A. Williams.
Glover smiled as he has not been known to do in previous concerts.
Maybe it’s because he was surrounded by all this living history,
made and in the making.
All this was in conversation with Glover’s savvy combo, the
Otherz: musical director Tommy James, piano; Brian Grice,
percussion; Patience Higgins, saxophone and flute; and Andy
McCloud, double bass. Trading solos with Glover or picking
up his groove and carrying it further, they unfurled standards,
including “The Way You Look Tonight,” “There Will Never Be
Another You,” and “Satin Doll,” filling their solos with wit
and ceaseless surprises.
Glover, tapping on a raised, miked floor that could have been
a drum in its own right, alternately skidded to stage right
or left to face James or Higgins (the band was on their own
raised stage above and behind the tap floor, all in full view
of the audience) and launch a dialogue. Like other leaders
of jazz groups, he fa-vors the piano and sax most as partners/
They never failed him. At one point, I could see James’ and
Glover’s eyes meet as the dancer found his groove and brought
it to the piano. The drummer took it up, and, in a heartbeat,
Glover hoofed it over to the drummer’s spot and they carried
it on together.
As Walker noted, Glover and his young colleagues went through
the whole vocabulary of tap steps, so how could there be anything
new? But, there was—new to me, at least. Glover introduced
a motif of crossing his ankles and doing tight turns, clockwise,
counter-clockwise, and back again, his legs like two strands
of taffy twisted around each other and turning—a knockout
But, when he danced loose-limbed, his legs swinging directly
from the pelvis, I could imagine the dancing skeleton beneath
the skin. Such amazing looseness and control. At 31, he keeps
getting better with every concert.
In one heart-catching passage, Slyde, Glover and Walker danced
an interplay, circling close, face to face, then swirling
off each into their own space, then taking turns in the center.
It was like tossing three stones into a pond and watching
each make its own ripples, overlapping with the other two.
There was so much going on, so many layers of connection,
so much knowledge.
The concert was a privilege from start to finish. Glover dedicated
the evening to Sali Ann Kriegsman, a tapper and former director
of the Pillow who did so much to bring tap back to this historic