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Baby at Birdland The Sand Buck Dance Mall March Concerto in Taps Whispering Delila's Theme Baby's Walking Blues Moose the Mooche Lullaby of the Leaves Ornithology
|Instruments||Music and Musicians|
Customer Reviews (2)
- "Masterful Tap Dance Jazz!"Review by Big Toots
In all honesty, when I stumbled – that is the first and last time that word will and could appear here – upon “Dancemaster,” I approached the listening with no small degree of skepticism. However, a closer listen and ultimately an understanding of the enormous musical talent that was “Baby” Laurence led me to gain a tremendous insight into his true genius. Much more than a hoofer a la Astaire, Kelly, or even “Bojangles” Robinson, Laurence had a special gift to be adept at creating what were complete, logical and highly creative jazz improvisations via tap. His feet simply became a musical instrument.
On this unique recording we encounter Laurence tap dancing improvisationally to 11 selections, including Bop standards (“Orinthology,” Moose the Mooche”). The jazz fare was well-known to “Baby,” as he had performed extensively with jazz artists including Art Tatum, Max Roach and Charles Mingus. The fascinating thing about “Dancemaster” is the fact that, unlike a video, in audio mode the listening mind can delve undistracted into Laurence’s extensive jazz vocabulary and, in doing so, it can run wild in parallel with Laurence’s flying feet (his unaccompanied “Concerto in Taps”). Laurence’s unique ability to create rhythmic and polyrhythmic “melodic” solo lines is only enhanced by the missing visual (“Lullaby of the Leaves”).
The two different rhythm sections here are stellar in supporting and framing Laurence’s tap. Wisely, they refrain from over-stepping boundaries onto what’s rapidly moving up front (“Buck Dance”). Pianists Nat Pierce and Roland Hanna marvelously comp and encourage and bassists Arvell Shaw and Al Hall drive hard. With timing everything, drummers Osie Johnson and Gerard “Dave” Pochenet provide the magic momentum that Laurence needs to fly.
“Dancemaster” provides a fascinating perspective of a true jazz artist. Give it a listen. If one opens ears, you might definitely walk away from it with a zip in your step – and your spirit.
(Posted on 6/6/2015)
- Baby Laurence: DancemasterReview by Simon Sez
Ironically there is no singing on Baby Laurence’s only album, Dancemaster, but his dancing was too special not to be recorded at least once. Baby Laurence was different from most other tap dancers in that not only could he sound like a drummer, but he put together “solos” that were worthy of horn players. On this set from 1960 he keeps up with fast company (including Paul Quinichette and Bobby Jaspar) and takes “Concerto In Taps” as a dazzling solo piece. Although one cannot see him, the music on Dancemaster is very complete by itself.
Simon Sez: Baby Laurence on his only album, Dancemaster (CJ30), taps up a storm and does very well with a swinging jazz group.
(Posted on 5/6/2014)
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