The JAZZ TAP ENSEMBLE, America’s first touring tap dance company, was founded in 1979 by three dancers and three musicians who brought original tap choreography with live jazz to the concert stage. Initially inspired by the great rhythm masters John Bubbles, “Baby” Laurence, “Honi” Coles as well as Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell, Gene Kelly, the varied modern dance backgrounds of the dancers and the diverse interests of the musicians, JTE’s vision of excellence, innovation, and collaboration, with a deep respect for the living masters, brought forth a repertory of virtuosity, wit, and deep musicality.
JAZZ TAP ENSEMBLE has been honored to present and share the stage with a pantheon of tap legends including Jimmy Slyde, Steve Condos, LaVaughn Robinson, Fayard Nicholas, Harold Nicholas, Charles “Honi” Coles, Eddie Brown, Brenda Bufalino, Dianne Walker, Savion Glover, and our beloved Gregory Hines. Based in Los Angeles, JTE has appeared in major concert halls in the U.S. and abroad including the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian, London’s Riverside Theatre, Paris’ Theatre de la Ville, Lyon’s Maison de la Danse, as well as NY’s Joyce Theater, Jacob’s Pillow, Spoleto USA, major first generation tap festivals across the U.S., and State Dept sponsored USIA tours of Southeast Asia and Latin America. Most recently, via DanceMotion USA, a US Department of State program, we embarked on a life changing one month tour of central and South Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Bulawayo and Harare, Zimbabwe) where real cultural exchange was able to happen daily with local artists, dancers and musicians, as well as disadvantaged youth in workshops, master classes, and concerts.
Performance highlights include Gregory Hines’ “Evening of Tap at Carnegie Hall,” “Dancing in the Streets” at the Apollo, Hollywood’s Playboy Jazz Festival, Salzburg’s 10th Annual JazzFest, Madrid’s Festival en Danza, and Lyon’s 4th Biennale, “An American Story.” TV and film credits include JTE Live in Concert (London), JTE with Honi Coles (San Francisco), and Christian Blackwood’s award winning documentary, “Tapdancin.” Recognized as leaders in the renaissance of tap dance in America, Artistic Director Lynn Dally and Jazz Tap Ensemble are well represented in Constance Valis Hill’s new history book, “Tap Dancing America.”
The Original Company
Jacob’s Pillow Program Notes
July 12-16, 1983
Besides avocados and domestic wine, one of California’s most popular exports is the Jazz Tap Ensemble, a spunky group of dancers and musicians that gives a new look to tap and a new sound to jazz.
With three U.S. tours, a sold-out season.at New York’s Dance Theater Workshop and a stint at the Smithsonian Institute (with the “dean” of American tap, Charles “Honi” Coles) already under its belt, the four year old Jazz Tap Ensemble has been seen on the Mike Douglas Show and on CBS Cable’s award-winning Tap Dancin‘.
Considered a leader in the present revival of tap in America The Company includes three dancers: Lynn Dally, Camden Richman and Fred Strickler. Lynn Dally, who has choreographed for many companies brings to The Ensemble an extensive background of tap, modern dance and improvisation. Camden Richman has studied tap dance with Eddie Brown, Noel Parenti and Charles “Honi” Coles, with whom she performed at The Smithsonian Institution. She has received two choreography fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts. A dancer with The Bella Lewitzsky Company for seven years, Fred Strickler too has enjoyed a varied career which includes musical comedy, modern dance and tap. He has received three choreography fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts.
JTE’s three musicians are Paul Arslanian. piano; Tom Danneberg, bass; and Keith Terry, drums. Paul Arslanian who composes many of the pieces for The Ensemble, studied at the Berklee College of Music and has performed with various groups including San Francisco Jazz All-Star Big Band. Tom Danneberg has worked with classical guitarist Jack Buckingham and studied at The Madrid Music Conservatory in Malaga. His focus has been and remains on electric bass for Blues. Rock and Jazz. With experience ranging from ·Indonesian gamelan music to Jazz, Keith Terry has played with Pickle Family Circus, Freddie Hubbard, Tex Williams and Gamelan Sekar Jaya. He is co-director of his own performance group Slap Happy.
Together the wit and sophisticated energy of these six performers offers dancing and music that bursts of spontaneous improvisation.
JTE DANCER BIOS
LYNN DALLY co founded the Jazz Tap Ensemble with dancers Fred Strickler and Camden Richman in 1979. As dancer and choreographer, she has created a large body of original works for the concert stage (disc 1) and performed worldwide on tour with the JTE. She is recognized for her role in the renaissance of tap dance in America. She has been honored to appear with tap legends Honi Coles, the Nicholas Brothers, Steve Condos, Brenda Bufalino, Sarah Petronio, Eddie Brown, Dianne Walker, Jimmy Slyde and Gregory Hines in venues from Carnegie Hall to the Apollo. As Artistic Director of the Jazz Tap Ensemble since 1986, she has continued to innovate in the field of rhythm tap with live jazz music, creating new work and honoring the legends while mentoring gifted young artists. Favorite performances include Gregory Hines’ Evening of Tap at Carnegie Hall, Maison de la Danse Biennale “An American Story,” every JTE season at NY’s Joyce Theater, Salzburg Jazz Fest, Paris’ Theatre de la Ville, Hong Kong’s Municipal Theatre, Madrid’s Festival en Danza, the Smithsonian with Honi Coles, the Jazz Bakery in L.A.
Dally has received multiple choreographic grants from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as major California Arts Council and Irvine Fellowships in Dance. Dally is the first tap dancer to be awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography, which supported the creation of Solea, a cross cultural rhythmic exploration for tap, flamenco, modern, and bharata natyam dancers. (disc 5) She performed in “Tap Divas: 3 Pioneers” with Brenda Bufalino (disc 3) and Sarah Petronio at Tony Waag’s NY Tap City Festival in 2001 and received an ATDF “Hoofer Award” for Choreography in 2006. In 2008, she hosted the first national conference of female tap dance artists, scholars, writers, and documentary filmmakers at UCLA, “Women in Tap.” This led to the production of her first tap documentary, Gotta Move: Women In Tap which screened at Lincoln Center and is now available on DVD.
In April 2012, Dally and the Jazz Tap Ensemble were selected by the US Department of State to represent the United States in a month-long cultural exchange produced by DanceMotionUSAsm in the African countries of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of Congo where JTE engaged one-to-one with professional dance artists and musicians, youth ensembles, and at-risk youth populations in workshops, master classes, concerts and lively informal jam sessions. Dally and the Ensemble were honored and privileged to be afforded this life changing experience.
Dally’s several commissions include Ruby, My Dear for Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet, Tribute to Fred Astaire for the Getty Museum, Dancin’ the Blues for City of Los Angeles, Bahia Dreams for Joyce Theater Foundation. Dally holds degrees from the Ohio State University and Smith College and was Adjunct Professor at UCLA in World Arts & Cultures/Dance and TFT’s Musical Theatre Program 2000-2012. She mentored in Margaret Jenkins’ CHIME/LA program 2011. Dally is featured in the new book, “TAP DANCING AMERICA: a Cultural History,” by Constance Valis Hill, and in the documentaries, “Thinking on Their Feet: Women of the Tap Renaissance,” by Jenae West, and “Two Takes on Tap” by Sharon Arslanian. Currently, Dally is celebrating JTE’s choreographic legacy in her new five disc series, JAZZ TAP ORIGINALS, available at www.jazztapensemble.org
JERRY KALAF, drums, joined JTE in 1984 contributing original compositions and a new sound for tap. He became Musical Director in 1990 and with JTE has toured Europe, Asia, South America, and the U.S. A graduate of Berklee College of Music where he studied with America’s great jazz artists, Kalaf toured extensively with the Pointer Sisters, and jazz artists including Eddie Harris, Gary Burton, Gary Foster, Frank Strazzeri, Bill Mays, Jimmy Cleveland, and Major Holley. He has accompanied Gregory Hines, at the Apollo Theater and in concert at Carnegie Hall. It was as a member of the JTE that Kalaf’s orchestration of Bach’s Italian Concerto for Sam Weber was premiered in Lyon, France by the National Orchestra of France. He is the recipient of a grant for original compositions from Meet The Composer/California. Jerry is an active studio musician in L.A., on the faculty of the Colburn School, and has made several recordings of his originals and standards including Trio Music (on Seabreeze), Just Like Old Times, and his most recent, Welcome to Earth on Palm Mountain Records. Kalaf has the longest tenure with JTE as musician, composer, arranger, and is responsible for the musical education of many a tap dancer along the way.
SAM WEBER joined JTE in 1986 and performed with the Ensemble through 1998, with several return engagements all the way through 2008. He first created ‘Daahoud’ (Disc 1,excerpt) in collaboration with Lynn Dally, and then proceeded to create over a dozen dazzling solos, each carefully crafted with the band, (including Bach Italian Concerto with pianist Jeff Colella (disc 3) and in 1995, continued his long collaboration with Musical Director Jerry Kalaf to create the Ensemble piece “Hands On.” (disc 2).
Weber was a protege of tap master Stan Kahn in San Francisco, and studied in NY at the Juilliard School. He came to the Ensemble with a long history of performance in ballet, theater, and television. During his tenure, he developed a new technique for tap dancing and grew to immense popularity as a teacher and performer throughout Europe and the U.S. Sam performed with the luminaries including Honi Coles, Gregory Hines, Steve Condos, Jimmy Slyde, Bunny Briggs, and the Nicholas Brothers. He became an expert in reconstruction of celebrated film dances (disc 4) and was the first tap dancer to receive the coveted NY Performance Award in 1994, the “Bessie” for Excellence in Performance during one of his many seasons with JTE at the Joyce.
CAMDEN RICHMAN co founded Jazz Tap Percussion Ensemble in 1979 where she created several duets with bassist Tom Dannenberg (disc 1), collaborated with Keith Terry (disc 2) Dally, Strickler and Arslanian on several pieces (disc 1). Camden appeared in California, NY, across the US, Paris, and London from 1979 -83.
FRED STRICKLER co founded the Jazz Tap Percussion Ensemble in 1979 creating his signature piece “Tone Poem” (disc 1 excerpt) and several other solo, duet, and trio pieces in collaboration with the dancers and musicians. Fred toured with JTE from 1979 – 85 including the very first “Arts America” tour to Southeast Asia sponsored by the US State Dept as well as JTE’s debut at the Kennedy Center.
LINDA SOHL-ELLISON joined JTE in 1984 for the Ensemble’s first State Dept tour of Southeast Asia. Opening at the Imelda Marcos Folk Arts Theater in Manila, with 80’ proscenium and mahogany stage floor, the tour went to five countries, ten cities including Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and Surabaya. Her solo, “Seven Steps” was also featured at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
HEATHER CORNELL joined JTE for the 1985 season creating a fresh Latin duo with Fred Strickler as well as her poignant solo, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Heather toured the US including Aspen Festival and performed in the KQED-TV special in San Francisco, “JTE with Honi Coles.” (disc 4).
TERRY BROCK came to JTE from Portland, Oregon, via the Colorado Tap Festival in 1988. She toured for several years and was featured in the USIA “Arts America” tour of Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Dominican Republic dancing her signature solo “Lady Be Good” along with Caravan, Night in Tunisia, and the original cast of “FranDance” (Miles Davis) with Dally and Weber at the Joyce Theater, NY.
MARK MENDONCA made his professional debut as a tap dancer with JTE in 1989 on a special benefit concert with Gregory Hines. Mark toured with JTE throughout the US, France, and Spain, with special appearances at the Biennale in Lyon and on French national television. He rejoined the Ensemble for summer ‘95 season in Aspen and New York. He was the first tap dancer to be awarded the Princess Grace Emerging Artist Fellowship in 1989, appears in original 1995 cast of “Interplay” (disc 3), and has improvising moments with Gregory Hines at the Jazz Bakery (disc 5).
DERICK K. GRANT debuted as a featured dancer with the JTE in 1992 at the Joyce Theater. Born and raised in Boston, he tributes Andrea Major, Paul and Arlene Kennedy, and Dianne Walker for his training as a young dancer. As a member of JTE, he created the solo, “Drum” (disc 2), performed in the full range of JTE repertory, and in 1994 won the Princess Grace Award for Emerging Artists. After his long engagement with Savion Glover’s “Noise/Funk” on B’way, Derick led the first national tour, and later created his own original show “Imagine Tap” which premiered in Chicago. Jazz Tap Ensemble was proud to include Derick again for the 2007 American TAP Masterpieces tour in which he rejoined his “Taxi” partner Sam Weber (disc2) for more amazing improvisations.
LAINIE MANNING made her JTE debut in 1993 at the Joyce Theater, NY. A featured dancer in commercials, television, and film, Lainie appeared in Pennies from Heaven with Steve Martin, danced jazz with Jaime Rogers and Joe Bennett, and worked with tap masters, Jimmy DeFore, Louis DaPron, Donald O’Connor, and Sammy Davis, Jr. Lainie is featured in Interplay original cast (disc 3) and American TAP Masterpieces (disc 4)
DORMESHIA SUMBRY EDWARDS was featured for two years on Broadway in “Black and Blue” before she returned home to LA, joining Derick Grant in JTE”s Caravan Project for gifted teen tappers. She made her JTE debut in 1993 at the Joyce Theater, NY, and appears here in her own reconstruction of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, as well as the Coles & Atkins Softshoe, (disc 4) and in the original cast of “Interplay” (disc 3). Dormeshia received the Princess Grace Emerging Artist Award in 1995 when she toured with the Ensemble to Hong Kong, Singapore, Southeast Asia, Alaska, and across America. She returned to JTE for 2004 Joyce and Maison de la Danse performances in New York and Lyon, France.
CHANNING COOK HOLMES studied with Alfred Desio at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, performed with Kids Tap LA in the Barcelona Festival, and received a Brody Grant to study with the renowned Fayard Nicholas. Channing joined JTE in 1997 and later took a leave from touring to join both the European and then Broadway casts of Riverdance as a featured tap dancer. His film credits include “Bojangles ‘ with Gregory Hines for Showtime and Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York.” Channing returned to LA and the concert stage with Jazz Tap Ensemble in 2002, when he was awarded the Princess Grace Award for Emerging Artists, performing at the Ford in L.A., across the U.S., and at NY’s Joyce Theater. (Disc 2)
JOSETTE WIGGAN began dancing at age 12, studying with Paul & Arlene Kennedy at Universal Dance Designs in L.A. She was a member of Caravan Project and was the first tap dancer to win the coveted 2001 Spotlight Award at L.A.’s Music Center. She toured in the national cast of 42nd Street and then graduated from UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance. She debuted with the Ensemble in NY, 2004 (disc 2) and toured to France that same year. She was in the original cast of American TAP Masterpieces 2007, contributing a stunning solo tribute to Eleanor Powell.
JOSEPH WIGGAN began his dance training with Paul and Arlene Kennedy at Universal Dance Designs, and has performed in numerous international tap and swing dance festivals. He performed in LA with Greg Russell’s Tap Sounds Underground and trained with Jason Samuel Smith’s A.C.G.I. Joseph was a member of the Caravan Project and debuted with JTE in Lyon, France 2004. He received the Princess Grace Emerging Artist Award in 2005. (disc 2)
MAYA GUICE holds a BA from Scripps College, where she majored in dance performance/choreography and performing arts administration. Maya began dancing at age six with Tita Boulger at the Peninsula School for the Performing Arts. She was an invited member of the JTE Caravan Project for gifted teens at age 11. Highlighted in DANCE magazine as an artist “On The Rise,” she made her professional debut with JTE at the Joyce Theatre, NYC (2008). As both performer and teacher, Maya was featured in JTE’s 2012 DanceMotionUSA tour of Africa.
KENJI IGUS has been tap dancing since the age of six and has shared the stage with such tap notables as Gregory Hines, Steve Zee, and Jimmy Slyde. He is the subject of the short film, “SAND,” documenting a father/son relationship and the passing on of the lost art of sand dancing. He toured with JTE in Africa 2012 where he performed his own original solos and classic JTE repertory.
B’JON CARTER began dance training at Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles, where he was introduced to tap by Jason Samuels Smith and Chloe Arnold. B’Jōn performed with the “Kennedy Tap Company,” founded by Paul and Arlene Kennedy, and studied at Cal State LA with the legendary Ardie Bryant. B’Jon has taught and performed in tap festivals and workshops throughout the US, Canada, and in South Africa. B’Jon is featured in his own composition, “Summertime” (excerpt) on disc 2 which he performed in the 2012 Africa tour.
SANDY VAZQUEZ was born and raised in Los Angeles and has been tap dancing since the age of six. She studied for ten years with Steve and Carol Zee at Everybody Dance! in midCity LA, where she also trained in ballet, jazz, modern, and hip hop. A member of Steve Zee’s LA Ironworks, where she was also mentored by Denise Sheerer, Sandy worked with Sarah Reich’s Tap Con Sabor. Sandy’s first professional touring experience was with JTE in Africa 2012.
In addition, these gifted dancers brought their unique individuality to Jazz Tap Ensemble repertoire and the creation of new works in LA, and on tour in California, New York City, across the US and abroad.
Carol Christensen Zee
Roxane “Butterfly” Semadini
Ananda Bena Weber
Jason Samuels Smith
JTE MUSICIAN BIOS
PAUL ARSLANIAN, piano, is co-founder of Jazz Tap Percussion Ensemble with colleagues Tom Dannenberg and Keith Terry. As Musical Director he created many original tunes for the Ensemble including “To Be Continued,” “Tone Poem,” “After Hours,” and “Jam with Honi,”. (disc 1, 2, 3)
TOM DANNENBERG, bass, co-founder of JTPE, created many original duets with his partner, Camden Richman, in addition to providing solid musical backing for the many adventures of the Ensemble inits first fiver years.. (disc 1)
KEITH TERRY, percussion/drums, is co-founder of JTPE, where from 1979 -1983 he created several original body percussion works with the dancers and musicians including “Tune for KB”(excerpt, disc 2) and “Hey Rube.”(complete, disc 2). Keith originated the term “body music” to describe his new inventions.
JEFF COLELLA, piano, studied at Berklee in Boston and with Dr. Guy Duckworth at U of Colorado where he graduated with a BA in Music. Special studies with noted jazz pianists Jimmy Rowles, Lou Levy, Alan Broadbent and more round out his versatility as pianist, composer, teacher in classical, contemporary, film and theater. Jeff joined JTE in 1984 and toured extensively, both nationally and internationally. He later joined Lou Rawls for many, many years.
ERIC VON ESSEN, bass, joined JTE in 1983 for the London debut, and continued for several years as Musical Director introducing the Ensemble to a rich repertory of jazz standards, and original compositions. A founding member of Quartet Music with Jeff Gauthier, Alex & Nels Kline, Eric was an innovative arranger of jazz for tap. He toured southeast Asia (USIA), performed with Gregory Hines at Carnegie Hall, kept the spirit of jazz alive in national and international tours. RIP Eric 1997.
DOUG WALTER (Pianist/Saxophonist), a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY. is a published composer/ arranger, orchestrator, conductor and performer. A master of keyboards and woodwinds (saxophone, clarinet and flute), Walter has performed and/or recorded with such jazz artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Phil Woods, Chuck Mangione, Gerry Mulligan, Chuck Israels, Jon Faddis, and Joe Williams, the big bands of Gordon Goodwin, Toshiko Akiyoshi/ Lew Tabackin, Bill Watrous, Les Brown, Ray Anthony, and Roger Neumann, as well as Bob Hope, Steve Allen, Michael Crawford, Barry Manilow, Wyclef Jean, Wynonna, Smokey Robinson, Michael Feinstein, Cher, Marvin Hamlisch, Ashford and Simpson, and Chaka Khan. He is a music director and arranger of Broadway shows for artists as diverse as Sally Kellerman, Connie Francis, Rita Moreno, Suzanne Somers and Carol Burnett. He also orchestrates and composes for network television, cable, videos and theatrical films. As instrumentalist and arranger, his contribution to JTE over the years has been immeasurable. Doug’s most recent tour with JTE was the unforgettable Tour en Afrique, 2012.
ERIC AJAYE, bass, joined JTE in 1992, touring worldwide with the Company. He attended Columbia University in NY and Cal Arts in Valencia. He has toured nationally and internationally with Freddie Hubbard, Taj Mahal, the Doug Macleod Band, Barry White, Osamu Kitajama, the Pointer Sisters, Nancy Wilson, Della Reese, performing at Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and numerous jazz festivals worldwide. He now lives, performs, and teaches throughout Australia.
STACY ROWLES, trumpet/fluegelhorn/vocals, daughter of celebrated pianist Jimmy Rowles, joined Jazz Tap Ensemble in 1989, toured the US and Europe, beloved for her compelling musicianship, her vocals, and her striking finale shim sham. (RIP Stacy 2009)
THEO SAUNDERS, piano, is featured on disc 1 and 2, especially in JTE’s extensive Monk repertory. Theo toured for several seasons with JTE contributing his distinctive sound to the live mix.
JOHN HEARD bass, has a long, illustrious career performing throughout the world with America’s top jazz artists. He has recorded more than 150 albums with such great stars as Oscar Peterson, Freddie Hubbard, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Ahmad Jamal, Joe Pass, George Cables, and Dexter Gordon. In addition to his musical talents, John Heard is an accomplished painter and sculptor. He made his first tour with JTE in 1991.
DAVID DUNAWAY,bass, from San Francisco, California, grew up playing a wide variety of music ranging from rock to jazz and classical. Since 1979, David has lived in New York City where he has recorded numerous albums ranging from folk/new age to jazz. David has toured worldwide with Cleo Laine & John Dankworth, and the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and has performed with Chet Baker, pianist Fred Hersch, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Ethnic music is also a big interest, and he has worked with Brazilian, Trinidadian, African and Turkish musicians. David has performed many seasons with JTE at the Joyce Theater, New York City, and toured Africa in 2012 teaching and performing in Kinshasa, Maputo, Bulawayo, and Harare.
The following musicians have greatly contributed to the legacy of Jazz Tap Ensemble:
Henry Franklin, bass
Rob Lockart, sax
Rich Eames, piano
Dave Scott, piano, trumpet
Louis Durra, piano
Tom Warrington, bass
Leslie Lewis, vocals
Kate McGarry, vocals
Dominic Genova, bass
Kirk Smith, bass
Wayne Jones, piano
Dave Enos, bass
Scott Breadman, percussion
Tom Garvin, piano (RIP 2011)
GREGORY HINES (1946-2003) award winning actor, singer, and dancer, expressed his passion for tap dancing in so many varied ways. His illustrious career began as a tap dancer with big brother Maurice just before his third birthday, under the tutelage of tap master Henry LeTang. The two performed for many years and later added their drummer father to the act to become Hines, Hines, and Dad. As a solo artist, Hines was an innovator who championed tap dance from the concert stage to the halls of Congress. (An Evening of Tap at Carnegie Hall and his pioneering the passage of the bill to recognize National Tap Day annually on the birthday of Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson.) Hines’ amazing range of talent was demonstrated in his riveting portrayal of jazz man Jelly Roll Morton in the Broadway production of Jelly’s Last Jam for which he won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. He earned three other Tony Award nominations for his appearances in Eubie, Comin’ Uptown, and Sophisticated Ladies.
Hines made his feature film debut in Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part I. Other film credits include The Preacher’s Wife, A Rage in Harlem, Waiting to Exhale, Running Scared, Wolfen, Off Limits, White Nights, The Cotton Club, and Tap! which combined Hines’ penchant for dance and drama, featuring tap legends Sandman Sims, Bunny Briggs, Harold Nicholas, and Hines’ boyhood idol, Sammy Davis, Jr. Hines made his directorial debut with the Showtime premiere of ‘The Red Sneakers,’ an inspirational tale of self confidence and personal success.
On August 9, 2003, Hines died of cancer in Los Angeles at age 57. The lights of Broadway were dimmed in his honor three days after his untimely death.
The mini documentary seen here on Disc 5 of “Jazz Tap Originals” was assembled by Lynn Dally in tribute to Gregory’s artistry and generosity. Excerpts are drawn primarily from his long association with the JTE, beginning with his appearance as Guest Artist (with his own special floor) in all eight concerts of JTE’s Joyce Theater debut in 1986.
EDDIE BROWN (1917-1992) from Omaha, Nebraska, appeared as a young artist in the Bill Robinson Revue in Harlem and with jazz greats Billie Holiday and Joe Turner. He performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Cal Tjader, and George Shearing, and at jazz clubs and tap festivals throughout the U.S., Canada, France, and Africa. For five years, he had a featured role in the San Francisco production of Jon Hendricks’ “Evolution of the Blues.” Renowned for his ‘ad lib’ style, he became a primary influence on the resurgence of rhythm tap on the West Coast in his teaching and mentoring in San Francisco and later Los Angeles. His inspiration continued in his Guest Artist appearances with Rhapsody in Taps, Jazz Tap Ensemble, and in his celebrated “Saturday classes” at the Embassy Theater in downtown L.A. ‘Scientific Rhythms’ the documentary created by Sharon Arslanian, is an up close look at Eddie’s methods and his gift for improvisation.
Eddie Brown’s “B.S. Chorus” is included in its entirety on disc 3. He created this choreography with the intention that it be passed down from dancer to dancer. Also on disc 3 are excerpts of “DOXY” which Eddie created exclusively for the Jazz Tap Ensemble. “Doxy” was so enjoyable to perform that it became a repertory favorite and was performed by almost every dancer in the company for over twenty years.
STEVE CONDOS (1918-1990), appeared with his brother Nick as the Condos Brothers in over a dozen films from 20th Century Fox starring Betty Grable. His dance career on film went from the thirties into the fifties. In the revival of the eighties he became a favorite on the newly emerging Tap Festival circuit, known for the speed of his taps as well as his deeply felt connection to jazz. The duet “Dance of the Wooden Indian Chiefs” reconstructed here on disc 4 was a living tribute by Sam Weber and Mark Mendonca to Steve who appeared as Guest Artist with JTE at the Palm Beach Festival, 1989. Steve died ‘with his shoes on’ at the end of his final performance in the Biennale de la Danse of Lyon, France.
CHARLES ‘HONI’ COLES (1911 -1992) a virtuosic tap dancer known for his elegant style, won a Tony Award for his performance in the Broadway musical, “My One and Only.” With longtime tap partner, Cholly Atkins, they were featured on Broadway in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ in 1949. The last of the “Class Acts,” Coles & Atkins ‘slowest softshoe’ (‘Takin a Chance on Love’) is featured on disc 4 as danced by Derick K. Grant & Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards. The original JTE met Honi in California when touring with “Bubblin’ Brown Sugar,” and was honored to work with him on his 71st birthday at Baird Auditorium, the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Much later, the JTE made a television special on KQED, San Francisco, with Special Guest Artist Honi Coles (disc 4) where he performed some of his classics including the Coles’ Stroll (the Walkaround) and his delightful tribute to Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, “The Mayor of Harlem.”
HAROLD NICHOLAS (1921-2000) with his older brother Fayard, make up one of the most beloved teams in the history of dance. Legends in their own time—the Nicholas Brothers—are best known for their unforgettable appearances in Hollywood musicials of the 1930’s and ‘40’s. Their rhythmic brilliance, manifested in their unique style, a smooth mix of tap, jazz, ballet, and acrobatic moves, astonished and excited stage and screen audiences all over the world from the very beginning. They have remained international stars for nearly six decades, and last year (1992) received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors for their extraordinary contribution to American culture. Parallel with his Nicholas Brothers work, Harold Nicholas has enjoyed a career as a solo artist, especially during his years in Paris in the late 1950’s and 60’s as well as the 1980’s. Harold Nicholas has made over 30 films including Kid Millions, Down Argentine Way, Orchestra Wives, Stormy Weather, and The Pirate, all with his brother Fayard; and by himself, The Reckless Age, Carolina Blues, Uptown Saturday Night, Tap!, and Five Heartbeats. His stage appearances include Babes in Arms, St. Louis Woman, Sophisticated Ladies, My One and Only, and The Tap Dance Kid. Mr. Nicholas appeared as Special Guest Artist with the JTE in New York’s Joyce Theater in 1988 and 1993 seasons, and purely as a jazz vocalist at Los Angeles’ Getty Museum in JTE’s Tribute to Fred Astaire.
BRENDA BUFALINO premiered her new solo, My Mind’s On Mingus, as well as a new duet with Lynn Dally, In Walked Bud, (Disc 3) in her week long appearance as Guest Artist with JTE at the Joyce Theater, NY, in May of 1993. Artistic Director and Founder of the American Tap Dance Orchestra, she has performed and taught across the US and in Israel, Italy, England, Germany, and France in venues including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, the Apollo Theater, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Smithsonian Institute, and Washington DC’s Kennedy Center. Ms. Bufalino has worked extensively with the late Charles ‘Honi’ Coles, including concert touring and appearances on BBC-TV. A guiding force in the renaissance of jazz and tap dance, Ms. Bufalino has also made a name as an author, actress, producer and director—most notably with her one woman show, Cantata & the Blues, her appearance in The Courtroom directed by Bill Irwin, and her documentary Great Feats of Feet. Her choreography has been commissioned throughout the US and she is the recipient of numerous fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
JIMMY SLYDE (1927-2008) appeared as Guest Artist with the JTE at New York’s Joyce Theater in 1992 ( disc 3) and 1993 and at Jacob’s Pillow in 2000 with Dianne Walker. He created “INTERPLAY” for the JTE in 1995 (discs 1 & 3). Mr. Slyde’s early history in show business featured performing live with the Slyde Brothers and in the Judy Garland film, A Star Is Born. In 1966, he appeared with Baby Laurence, Buster Brown, and Chuck Green at the Berlin Jazz Festival, and has since performed in films, concerts, and festivals in America and Europe with renowned jazz musicians Roy Haynes, Shirley Scott, Slide Hampton and Barry Harris among others. Slyde toured the US with The Original Hoofers in 1000 Years of Jazz, appeared in the films The Jazz Adventure with Jo Jones and George Benson, The Cotton Club, ‘Round Midnight, About Tap, and in Gregory Hines’ Tap!. Jimmy Slyde is the recipient of a three-year Choreography Fellowship from the NEA. His numerous television appearances include the PBS production of Gregory Hines’ “Tap Dance in America.” Mr. Slyde was a featured performer on Broadway for the full two year run of the history making hit, Black and Blue.
DIANNE WALKER joined the JTE for a European tour of France and Italy which wrapped in Palermo. She became expert in Eddie Brown’s “Doxy” and gave a most meaningful interpretation of Ellington’s “In My Solitude” inspired by her long run on Broadway in Black and Blue and her association with “The Hoofers” especially Jimmy Slyde and Bunny Briggs. Dianne does not appear on this collection (hopefully, in the future), but can be found in a beautiful solo on JTE’s release of “Gotta Move: Women in Tap.” Dianne also guested in tandem with Jimmy Slyde on JTE’s Jacob’s Pillow concerts in 2000.
SAVION GLOVER appeared with the JTE at the Joyce as a seventeen year old prodigy in 1990 and again in 1993. He joined Jazz Tap on tour for a special appearance at Ohio State University’s Wexner Center, Columbus Ohio.