Tom Culver: Duke’s Place

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Tom Culver

Duke’s Place

Upstairs at Vitello’s, Los Angeles, CA, March 7, 2019

Reviewed by Mary Bogue for Cabaret Scenes

Tom Culver

Imagine a swinging night of mostly Duke Ellington tunes arranged in new and exciting ways that electrified the crowd as Tom Culver swung the doors wide open to Duke’s Place (the title of his new CD) with a sweep of panache, a familiar and friendly voice, and talent well-honed over the years.

Like the cool Ellington, Culver, swank in a white tuxedo jacket, was glass-smooth on “I’m Just a Lucky So and So” (lyrics by Mack David) and stellar on “Mood Indigo” (Barney Bigard/Mitchell Parrish), warmed up by Ann Patterson on sax. A killer arrangement and juke house feel on “Duke’s Place” (William Katz and Ruth Roberts) drove the sold-out crowd into passionate applause. Pianist Rich Eames gave the Duke a run for his money. Next, guitarist Pat Kelley was perfect on “Forever Didn’t Last Until Spring” (Tom Culver/Effie Joy).

Culver finished an absolutely magical evening, with the thrilling crescendo, “Caravan,” (music: Juan Tizol). Driven by Gabe Davis on bass and Kevin Winard on drums, it came alive.

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Eames dropped in, and each note became a hot stepping stone. Nolan Shaheed’s solo on trumpet came off as a snake charmer to the audience and Winard and Patterson turned up the heat. It was hot, hot, hot! It burned like the desert sun, and in return, a much-deserved standing ovation was delivered.

Culver offered as his encore, the cool and quenching. “Harlem Butterfly (Johnny Mercer). A perfect cabaret show.

His new CD, Duke’s Place, can be found online at the usual places.

Mary Bogue

Born to upstate New York parents Nelson Binner and Gladys Witt, Mary Bogue was the fourth of five children. Her love of acting was apparent early in her life, when she acted out imagined scenes in the second story hallway of their home on Division Street. Moving to California in 1959 only fueled the fire and soon she tried out and got the part in Beauty and the Beast, a children's production at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. The bug followed her into junior and high school productions, but when she struck out on her own in the early 70s, she found it wasn't as easy as sitting at the world famous Schwab's on Sunset. Her first audition stopped her dead in her tracks for years when the "casting director" expected nudity. It was only in 1990 that she returned to her first love, albeit slowly as she was a caregiver to 16 foster daughters. Only when she was cast in Antonio Bandera's directorial debut, Crazy in Alabama (1999)(which she was cut from) did she pursue this dream.