Before the pyrotechnics lit up the sky over the Empire State Plaza, fireworks were cracking inside at The Egg. That’s where Savion Glover, with musical ensemble Beast Wellington and violinist/composer DBR and The Mission, offered up a double-header of terrific music and riotous rhythm tap on the last night of the year.
The program, which concluded with champagne and hors d’oeurves, was a special one for The Egg, one that will hopefully usher in yet another year of stellar performing arts there. On an auspicious note, the New Year’s Eve event was well attended (not always the case when dance is the headliner). And though tap maestro Glover again went on a hoofing spree that ran well beyond his allotted hour (this reviewer had to leave before the curtain came down), he was almost giddy during his portion of the program, joking with the house. The audience was in glee too as Glover often ignores the patrons, focusing solely on sharing and expanding the beat with the musicians that accompany him.
Certainly, the funky music by Beast Wellington was heart-thumping. Familiar songs like “Rock With You,” “You Can Feel It All Over” and “Another One Bites the Dust” inspired a partying mood. But in the flexible feet of Glover, these songs morph into improvisational marathons. Glover takes the rhythm and then weaves a tapestry of sound in and around it. The septet, with special attention given to drummer Nate Smith, accents his rhythmic journey. Songs lead into a patter between Glover and a single musician. He eggs the player on to go further with him. They do, but somehow, all round the corner again to get back to the melody for a big finish.
Though Glover is hardly a supreme entertainer, he is an incredible tapper. He hits hard and soft, on the sides of his shoes and on the tips of his toes. Glover is seeking sound and he pursues it singularly. Thus when he flashes his smile at the audience, as if they are in on a secret, they go wild.
Glover is generous with his stage. As part of Friday night’s performance, he brought on five young dancers who performed what he called “Galaxy 9.” In a synchronized routine, these youngsters showed off their style and talents that surely made Glover proud.
The evening got off to an inspired start with DBR (Daniel Bernard Roumain) and his band The Mission. Without his dreadlocks, which he just had removed prior to the show, he was visually unrecognizable. But as soon as he picked up his violin, the sound was classic DBR. He draws unexpected sounds from his fiddle, shaping his instrument into one that is percussive as much as it is gorgeous solemn string.
His version of “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” renamed “Our Country,” showed the best of DBR — an imaginative composer and arranger as much as hugely talented violinist who coaxes his instrument to sing.