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'Bebop Is A Dance' Reunites Sir Charles Thompson Trio With Tap Legend Jimmy Slyde At Columbia University

The Sir Charles Thompson Trio, featuring pianist Sir Charles Thompson, drummer Eddie Locke and bassist Earl May, along with tap legend Jimmy Slyde will perform 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 27, at "Bebop is a Dance," an event sponsored by The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University.

The historic collaborative performance, which explores the relationship between bebop and dance, will take place at Miller Theatre, Columbia University, 116 th Street and Broadway. It will be Thompson's first New York appearance in 10 years.

The birth of bebop in the 1940s is often considered to mark the beginning of modern jazz. This style grew directly out of the small swing groups of the time, but placed a much higher emphasis on technical exploration and on more complex harmonies rather than on "singable" melodies.

"While Sir Charles grew up playing in dance bands, he really is identified with the small band scene of 52 nd Street and Harlem, where music such as bebop was nurtured," said Robert G. O'Meally, Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and director of the Center for Jazz Studies. "He is one of bebop's pioneers, one of the great players of this music a real composer on the spot."  

Jimmy Slyde is considered "one of the greatest tap dancers of our century," O'Meally said, adding, "He can use the floor as a bebop drum, but he also can float and slide hence his name."

While the two men have performed together over the years, the April 27 event is a much-anticipated reunion. "Sir Charles Thompson proved as a piano player that his music was 'danceable,' " O'Meally said. "Some people couldn't keep up with the rhythms. But Jimmy Slyde could."

Tickets are $20 for the general public; $12 for Columbia University faculty and staff; and $7 for Columbia University students with ID. To purchase tickets, call 212.854.7799.

Music Humanities Jazz Day also is April 27. That afternoon, students in Columbia University 's music humanities classes will attend a special program in Miller Theatre featuring the Columbia Jazz Performance Faculty. The program is organized by Christopher Washburne, assistant professor of music, director of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program and the faculty jazz performers' trombone player.

The other members of the Columbia Jazz Performance Faculty are: Steven Wilson (saxophone); Paul Bollenback (guitar); Don Sickler (trumpet); Benjamin Waltzer (piano); Bradley Jones (bass); and Anthony Moreno (drums).

"Music Humanities Jazz Day got started last semester to kick off jazz being taught as part of the core curriculum and its inclusion in music humanities," Washburne said. The event allows students to have "up close and personal, interactive experiences" with professional musicians, he said.

For more information about the April 27 "Bebop is a Dance" performance or Music Humanities Jazz Day, please call 212.851.1633, email jazz@columbia.edu, or visit www.jazz.columbia.edu.

The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University is an interdisciplinary venture dedicated to the study of jazz both as a musical idiom and important cultural phenomenon. By bringing together such diverse fields as musicology, history, literature, political science, dance and film, the Center encourages new perspectives, ideas and insight. Columbia University is the first research institution in the United States to take this approach to the study of jazz.

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Published: Apr 23, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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