Imagine seeing a world-class show and then afterward having the opportunity to celebrate New Year’s Eve right in the theater with the performers – complete with a buffet table of great food, champagne and cash bar…
Well, that’s what happened at The Egg in Albany, hosting its first New Year’s Eve celebration last weekend, as Friday turned into Saturday and 2010 turned into 2011.
The evening’s performance opened strong with DBR & the Mission taking the reins of the last moments 2010 and starting the ball rolling toward the midnight hour.
Just recently having shed his long, trademark dreadlocks, violin virtuoso DBR (Daniel Bernard Roumain) began his inspired set with a jazz-rock number that sent incendiary sparks flying out into the audience. His violin pyrotechnics on that tune set the tone for the rest of his set, traversing the musical landscape from fiery violin virtuosity to the sensitive balladry of “Catillian” from his latest album, “Wood Box Beats & Balladry.”
Bandmates Yayoi Ikawa on keyboards, drummer Kenny Grohowski and bassist Jim Robertson added the right touches of support and improvisation to spotlight DBR’s dynamic and wide-ranging instrumental skills.
Up next, headliner and tap dancing monster Savion Glover offered the world premiere of “All FuNK’D Up,” debuting a brand new approach to his artistry. This time out he had a full band – Beast Wellington, led by trumpeter Mark Ingraham – to propel his toe-tapping metronome-steady beats.
Make no mistake, this was good, old-school funk from deep in the ’70s and ’80s song-bag of hits. Highlights included a cutting contest between the master, Glover and upstart Marshall Davis Jr. about three songs into the performance. Talk about toe-and-heel, mind-blowing tapping virtuosity between these two exquisite practitioners of the art form. There was smoke rising from the furious friction of the beats.
Later on in the set, the five-member dance troupe Galaxy 9 joined Glover in a tribute to Michael Jackson. The three women and two men lit up the stage with foot-beat rhythmic accompaniment to the Gloved One’s music.
Beast Wellington delivered flawless funky accompaniment to Glover’s tap-dancing – complete with terrific solos spun by guitarist Chris Ryan and keyboardist Jerell Crockett. Of special note were the soulful vocals of Samantha Hewlett.
Kudos to The Egg’s executive director Peter Lesser and his staff, who kept the ball rolling all night before finally dropping it at the New Year. For those who caught the show, it was grand. For those who bought tickets for the show, as well as the post-performance reception, it was out of this world.
Hey, the tickets for the reception were only 40 bucks. Think about it again… How many times in your life can you have the access to party in the New Year with the artists who you just watched perform on stage? It’s like a backstage pass on steroids!
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Michael Janairo’s review @ The Times Union
Excerpt from Wendy Liberatore’s review @ The Daily Gazette: “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.”