Waiting in stillness of time, I sit and wonder what the show will entail, as I stare at the stage, awakened by the different types of saxophones to the left. On their stands sit a soprano, alto and tenor saxophone, yearning to be played. On the right sits an upright bass, seemingly content, and at the center lies a rectangular wooden platform, perfectly aligned to reflect an emerald white.
Soon enough, the lights dim and Danny Nielsen enters the stage accompanied by two musicians from YYC jazz. Each artist takes their place like they are on home plate ready to take bat. Danny steps on the middle platform, he is wearing a simple dress shirt and tap shoes, eyes engaged. Danny begins to tap his feet and slowly ramps up the speed as though he is warming-up. With each stomp of the foot, you begin to sense the vibrations, reminiscent of a quick and pounding heart beat. In time and on time, the musicians begin to play, not just any music, but jazz music. The walking bass, and smooth sounds of the saxophone compliment and accompany Danny’s rhythms. There are moments of tension and ease, as Danny turns to face the saxophonist and they trade rhythms and feed off each other’s energies. This call and response sequence is not one sided, as the bass soon follows into the conversation when Danny turns to him. The bass maintains a constant rhythm, and once Danny escalates the momentum, almost like a threat, the bassist responds with a beautiful transition to double time. His solo is mesmerizing.
There are other moments you feel being chased, as Danny draws you in with lighter and softer rhythms, then abruptly switches to heavier and thunderous sounds that cause you to slide to the edge of your seat. Alternatively, time slows and it’s similar to an easy listening radio program, while honoring such greats of jazz as Wayne Shorter or Louis Armstrong. The music being played is smooth and well chosen. The saxophonist acts like a master chef when choosing different cutting blades to prepare a king’s feast. He selects the proper type of saxophone to produce the perfect quality of sound to honor each song.
On foot, is a perfect mix of tap dancing, live music, and raw energy. The musicians do a great job: playing original jazz tracks, while adding their own individual flare. It is also an enjoyable tribute to the jazz artists of the past. Danny’s unfettered dancing and intricate footwork will leave you smiling.
By Conrad Tang
Conrad Tang is a street dance practitioner and Kinesiologist, who enjoys sharing the art of street dance culture with others and learning about the human body.