The driver behind tapper Savion Glover’s spectacular, 90-minute display of virtuosity in his latest program was to pay homage to Trayvon Martin, the African American teen from Florida whose fatal shooting has prompted a national controversy.
The program Saturday at the Warner Theatre opened with a poem about the incident and the hurt and anger it ignited. Glover stood with four young boys dressed in hooded sweatshirts like the one Martin was wearing when he was killed. When Glover dedicated the last piece to “TM,” the audience roared its approval.
The evening was like an hour-and-a half drum solo. This was both good and bad. Glover extended into a full program what is usually a brief time to extemporize, to develop themes that may stray far from what is standard and to show off technical brilliance. Such solos dazzle for a short period. For a long time, constant dazzle becomes repetitive.
Brief drum solos also require a great deal of concentration on the part of the listener who must “run after” the musician’s imagination as it freely soars and sails. Having to deploy that kind of concentration for an entire evening to follow Glover’s brilliant stream of consciousness was exhausting. To top it off, there were few of the usual overarching benchmarks for feeling musical time pass, such as recognizable sectioning. This left one feeling like he was dropped in a fantastically interesting place with no map.
Glover is the kind of supreme artist you adore but whose concerts you find hard to take.
Squires is a freelance writer.