Club Review: Bossa Tap Trio

May 30, 2021 | By

In 1952, the iconic star Fred Astaire recorded a multi-album set of the classic songs he had introduced or featured over the previous decades. Norman Granz, the producer, surrounded the song & dance man with legendary musicians from Jazz at the Philharmonic, with Oscar Peterson on piano. The songs were, of course, immaculately sung, but the surprise of the project was that in instrumental breaks, where Ella might have scatted and Charlie Parker might have wailed on the horn, Astaire tapped. His tap was as rhythmically sophisticated and as musically joyous as any musical interlude might have been.

Felipe Galganni (Photo: Rachel Neville)

This amazing recording leapt to my mind as I watched Bossa Tap Trio create an hour of magic at Pangea. The show was a beautifully chosen mix of classic and lesser-known Bossa material, performed with smooth, savvy style and grounded by the remarkable percussive performance, tapped to perfection by dancer, choreographer, teacher Felipe Galganni, who is not content to dance at the musical breaks, but also provides constant music along with his cohorts. The great Brazilian pianist Helio Alves’s rich yet subtle and insinuating accompaniment and fellow Brazilian Jackie Ribas’s smooth as silk, emotionally resonant vocals rounded out the talented trio.

The show opened with a relatively familiar song, “Água de Beber/Water to Drink” (Antônio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes), which allowed the audience to concentrate on the bravura presentation right from the top. By the second number, “Batida diferente/Different Beat” (Durval Ferreira, Maurîcio Einhorn), we had been completely won over. It afforded the dancer the opportunity to dazzle with a dizzying variety of sounds and rhythms. It also contained an explosive piano and tap call-and-response section that deserved the cheers it got. Galganni even managed to dance a “Basie ending”!

(L. to r.): Galganni with Jackie Ribas, Helio Alves.

On Carlos Lyra’s “Influência do Jazz/Jazz Influence,” a tale of how jazz has influenced Brazilian songwriting, Galganni’s joy is irrepressible and irresistible. “Garota de Ipanema/Girl from Ipanema” (Antônio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes, Norman Gimbel) was a tour de force, with the sound of the tap underscoring Ribas’s haunting, underplayed vocal. It was absolutely mesmerizing. The dancer took a brief, well-deserved break as Alves and Ribas took center stage on Dorival Caymmi’s “Rosa Morena” and hushed the room with the classic Brazilian sound they achieved. I would happily run to see any one of these artists in their own shows.

Jobim’s “Wave” was an ending in which to luxuriate. Invigorated by the trio in luxurious ways, this warhorse of Brazilian music sounded as fresh and exciting as it had when it first appeared in 1967. The most dramatic and exciting choreography was wisely saved for the encore, “Vera Cruz” (Milton Nascimento); it highlighted the breadth and depth of Felipe Galganni’s talent. The tapping remained as infectious, inventive, and inviting in the eighth song as it was in the first—a remarkable achievement. He is one of those rare dancers who seem to be able to tap not only the rhythm but the melody. Watch for the return to Pangea of Bossa Tap Trio. I know I will.

(Bossa Tap Trio appeared at Pangea on May 26.)

Category: News / Reviews / Commentary, Reviews

About the Author ()

Gerry Geddes has conceived and directed a number of musical revues—including the Bistro- and MAC Award-winning "Monday in the Dark with George" and "Put On Your Saturday Suit-Words & Music by Jimmy Webb"—and directed many cabaret artists, including André De Shields, Helen Baldassare, Darius de Haas, and drag artist Julia Van Cartier. He directs "The David Drumgold Variety Show," currently in residence at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, and has produced a number of recordings, including two Bistro-winning CDs. He’s taught vocal performance at The New School, NYU, and London’s Goldsmith’s College and continues to conduct private workshops and master classes. As a writer and critic, he has covered New York’s performing arts scene for over 40 years in both local and national publications; his lyrics have been sung by several cabaret and recording artists. Gerry is an artist in residence at Pangea, and a regular contributor to the podcast “Troubadours & Raconteurs.” He just completed a memoir of his life in NYC called “Didn’t I Ever Tell You This?”

Comments (3)

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  1. Sharon Drake says:

    Felipe Galganni never disappoints. His performances are always a joy to behold

  2. Ana Galganni says:

    Great review! Bossa Tap Trio brings back the colors and the joy of Brazilian music to our hearts.

  3. Felipe Galganni is an infectious performer. His rhythms always complex but compelling and memorable. A joy to watch and listen to.