Is Everyone Happy?

Eric Reed can't blame age for a midnight set so innocuous you wondered where you were. Isn't this the Knit? No, it's the Blue Note? Jeez, I am tired. I used to trace Reed to Hampton Hawes, because he has so much technique and smarts that I didn't went to mention Ramsey Lewis. Reed played imaginatively, responsively, at the Wayne Shorter Lincoln Center concert and I wanted to hear more. But he wanted to plug his Broadway songs album ("Send in the Clowns," "Maria," oy). He played two extended blues and a fastidiously inventive "'Round Midnight," he and his trio executing everything with the éclat of Oscar Peterson—also with Peterson's notes (modified by Lewis's gospel blues tropes) and superficiality. The audience loved it—a couple in the balcony danced. Peterson has always been popular; why not his heirs (cf. Benny Green)? Earlier that day, I had listened to the new Nicholas Payton album and only the heavy mix on the bass told me I wasn't listening to the head of an old Blue Mitchell album, which was also in the carousel. Jazz has always found strength and renewal in the anxiety of influence; now we're getting the influence without the anxiety. Which is one reason I was blown away by the show at the Variety Theater.

Savion Glover Downtown was a largely improvised program created by Glover, featuring him and six other dancers. Prospects looked especially good when Eli Fountain's quartet took its place and in the center was Patience Higgins. I admired Glover in 1989 in Black and Blue, but never footed the bill for Bring in 'Da Noize, Bring in 'Da Funk, so forgive a latecomer for shouting: Glover, who is 24, is one of the most inventive, stimulating jazz players in years. True, his instrument is his feet, but I heard no Texaco solo more riveting or intricately musical than his extended variations on a medley of "Billie's Bounce" and "Now's the Time," or wittier than his rendition of "Cheek to Cheek"—wearing a tuxedo T-shirt in a pas de deux with Ayodele Casal, whose birthday that evening prompted a jam session with more fire than the staged jams you hear at most jazz festivals.

Glover has invented a stamping style that is already much imitated, and he can pounce on a theme like "Milestones" or "Caravan" and work it with the same nonstop intensity as Cecil Taylor, until your head is spinning. But he can also be sweet and slow, as in an intoxicating version of "In a Sentimental Mood," introduced with a rapturous tenor solo, replete with what has apparently become Higgins's trademark grit and two-note chords. Higgins has recorded memorably (Abrams's Think All, Focus One, David Murray's South of the Border), but in the era of cloned jazz he remains conspicuously neglected. Glover's music, however, isn't as easily packaged. He taps a splendid, sandy obbligato to Abbey Lincoln on "Who Used To Dance," but an album?—Baby Laurence tried that. Movie musicals are dead, yet Comden and Green could fashion something worthy of him, because whether or not he can sing (I guess not, since he doesn't), he can express anything with his feet. A highlight of Black and Blue was Bunny Briggs's double- and triple-time tapping to a very slow "In a Sentimental Mood." The lesson was not lost on Glover, who, refraining from all upper-body acrobatics, zeroed in on the melody with his feet and softly and expressively played the music. He would kill in a jazz club. Michael Dorf, are you still reading this?

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