Some of our greatest fun, and certainly biggest surprises of our recent New York City visit, came courtesy of Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater. After a phenomenal evening last year at one of the Apollo’s famous Amateur Nights, we signed up for a disgracefully inexpensive ticket ($10) for a show that was simply labeled “Wycliffe Gordon’s Jazz a la Carte.” Although we expected a high-quality jazz concert, which we certainly got, we ended up getting much, much more.
The band turned out to be the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra. The first piece was accompanied by a set of very good dancers who helped bring the music to life. The real fun, however, came after that piece, when the surprise host for the show–Maurice Hines (dancer, actor, choreographer, director and brother and former tap dance partner of Gregory Hines) came on stage. Although 68 years of age, he sang, danced, and entertained with the energy of someone half, or at least two-thirds his age. He regaled the audience with stories of how his father brought him and his brother to, and prepared the children to perform at the Apollo. He then brought a couple of his protégées onto the stage. First, singer Theresa Thomason performed some soulful classic songs. Next came tap dance sensation Savion Glover, who dazzled the audience with amazing steps and tapped rhythms.
These performances were followed with a number of good solo performances and ended with a very fun “duet” between Wycliffe Gordon’s innovative trombone playing and Savion Glover’s equally innovating tapping.
Overall, this was one of the most fun music experiences we have had in years. Moreover, after our last two experiences, the Apollo has risen much higher on our list of things to do in New York.