REVIEW OF MICHELE DREES' JAZZ TAP DANCE PROJECT.
I've always been aware that Michele Drees is one of the UK's finest
and most versatile drummers, and I've also known about her love of
tap-dance but had never seen the show, so this year, on my
birthday, I awarded myself a treat and went to see it live.
You never get the full impact by watching clips on line.
First of all, let's get one thing out of the way. Michele is always
saying how shy and retiring she is. Don't believe a word of it.
She sat centre stage and dominated the whole evening, whether driving
her band of fine musicians (line-up below) acting as MC, at which
she proved witty and engaging, or picking up a guitar and
singing Bossa Nova.
Then, of-course, there were the dancers. Scott Cripps and Adel Joel were
a revelation! I had no idea that British tap-dancers had reached this standard.
They brought back memories of those legendary veteran US dancers
who burst on to the London scene following
a film called No Maps On Their Taps,
a documentary made a few decades ago (I saw them live, too).
The difference was that these dancers were
integrated into the show rather than just 'dancers with accompaniment'.
They were featured in different ways - sometimes a solo feature,
sometimes in mock battle as in Michele's own 'Time To Play',
sometimes a tribute to past masters such as Gregory Hines and,
a real innovation, Michele had them dancing
to her beloved Brazilian Samba,
something that I don't think has been done before.
Numbers like Upa Neguinho and Yatra Ta.
Then, the dancers even re-created old choreography, as in Eddie Brown's
treatment of Duke Ellington's 'In A Mellotone'.
In short, the show was full of variety and you never knew what was coming next.
As a result, the two 45 minute sets seemed to fly by.
I left feeling energized and excited.
This is a truly sensational show which deserves to be
the highlight of any Jazz Festival anywhere.
And it should be!
Bookers, agents, festivals – are you listening!?