Thursday, March 22, 2018

Taps & Traps

Those who know me will recognize my appreciation for the art form of tap dancing and of its important relationship to the practice of Jazz drumming. Playing with tap dancers is one of my favourite things to do! I'm always amazed at their seamless sense of rhythmic phrasing, syncopation and movement.

My first introduction to tap was from listening to the seminal Jo Jones album "The Drums" in which Papa Jo imitates the sounds of his favourite tap dancers. Recently I've been digging what little I've seen of Savion Glover's collaborations with Marcus Gilmore and Jack DeJohnette.

I recently worked with a number of world class tap dancers (including Heather Cornell and Travis Knights) as part of the annual Rhythm, Body and Soul Festival produced by Tasha Lawson and the Tri-Tone Rhythm Society, in my hometown of Calgary, AB.

In corresponding with Heather Cornell afterwards, she praised the work of percussionist Jesse Stewart with whom she presented a tap and drums duo performance, as part of the 2018 Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival (see Tim Mah's earlier guest blog post for a full report). This is an ongoing project so look for these two master artists on a stage near you.

And fortunately for us, here's a couple clips of this recent collaboration between tap master Cornell and percussionist Stewart:

Taps and Traps: Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart • Handpan Sand Dance from Hazi on Vimeo.

Taps and Traps: Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart • Music for wooden box and wooden mocks from Hazi on Vimeo.

Taps and Traps: Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart • Water wood from Hazi on Vimeo.


  1. Barry Harris used to have Honi Coles - - perform at his Jazz Cultural Theatre regularly back in the day (mid-80s was when I was hanging there).

  2. And Jimmy Slyde. Tina Pratt. We used to sit in whenever he would let us, back in the 80's, but Jimmy was his favorite dancer.