Every year, Jazz at Lincoln Center runs something called, Essentially Ellington, which is a competition for high school jazz bands from around the country and even Cuba. It goes on for three days culminating in a final concert where the top band and winners in other categories are announced. I watched a lot of it on Livestream and was knocked out at how good these young people were. I mean they were good and swingin'! I was enjoying myself immensely, finding it hard to turn it off. At one point a band was introduced, the Tucson Jazz Institute, and the band director said they were going to play Duke Ellington's "Bojangles" and, like being stuck by a bolt of lightning, I remembered,
Well, the Tucson Jazz Institute played the tune and they also had a tap dancer! What was great is the fact the dancer was incorporated into the piece to be part of the ensemble, we ARE musicians you know, and he laid it down! It was a moment for me to love tap, love youth and love the genius of Ellington. So, do yourself a favor and check out the clip below of the TJI, lead by Doug Tidaback, doing "Bojangles: A Portrait of Bill Robinson" (the full title), with tap dancer Brendan Kellam doing his thing, as the rest of the band is doing their thing. Oh, by the way....they won first place in the competition.
Happy National Tap Dance Day!