By Norm Harris
Put some Riverdance moves together with four Silver Belles and top it all off with a healthy amount of JazzBerry Jam to hold everything together and you have the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center Tea Time Series presentation of the Sweethearts of Jazz.
The main stage theater on May 17 was bustling with energy as host Geri Rhodes Kennedy and co-host Isabelle Coles Dunbar featured ladies from the world of Broadway and beyond in a colorful and artistic display of musical styles and talent.
Opening with the tune “Drop Me off In Harlem” and providing the musical backdrop for the other artists was the renowned female jazz trio of pianist Bertha Hope, Paula Hampton on drums and Carline Ray on double acoustic bass.
Four spry and fit seniors known internationally as the Silver Belles (Marion Coles, Elaine Ellis, Cleo Hayes and Fay Ray) tap-danced with style and elegance like they’ve done so many times before at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, the Latin Quarter, Carnegie Hall, and as featured artists in the Apollo Theater. They didn’t miss a step while performing “Take the A Train” and “Sweet Georgia Brown” with the impeccable musical support of JazzBerry Jam. Hampton, niece of jazz trombonist Locksley Wellington “Slide” Hampton, is a double threat in the talent department. While doing some smooth stick work on the skins, she delivered a vocal solo called “There’s Nothing But You.”
Adding depth and variety to the show in several spots with some interestingly creative footwork was Karen Calloway Williams, the ex-dance captain of the Broadway extravaganza, “Riverdance.” She was joined by her two students of tap, Annakia Anderson and Cenithia Bilal. Calloway dazzled with some intricate moves to the tune of “Just In Time,” while her young protégés accompanied her on, “Blue Skies.”
Yvette Glover, the mother of famed tap dancer Savion Glover, let everyone know where her raw energy and talent comes from when she belted out “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart,” and the classics “What A Difference A Day Makes” and “Make Someone Happy.”
The finale, comprising the whole ensemble for the playing of “Shim Sham,” ended with audience participation for the song “Exactly Like You.”
To get information on any of the other creative music-based programs like this one call LaGuardia Community College Performing Arts Center Associate Director of Programming Lucy Holland at 718-482-5151.