Mary Bogue & Claude Hall

Both Sides Now

Upstairs at Vitello’s, Los Angeles, CA, October 19, 2017

Reviewed by Elliot Zwiebach for Cabaret Scenes

(L-R) Mary Bogue & Claude Hall

It was an evening of fire and smoke as Mary Bogue brought the heat and Claude Hall provided the sizzle in a love-fest of a show that summed up their life journeys thus far.

Bogue is a powerful earth-mother who is a master at communicating her accumulated wisdom and emotions, whether sassy or soft; while Hall is elegance personified—a tall, slinky singer with a regal bearing who smolders. Individually, each is a joy to behold, but together they are pure magic.

When both were on stage, they were delightful as they jokingly sparred about stealing each other’s man on Duke Ellington’s  “Rocks in My Bed.”  They also had fun with Leonard Cohen’s ”Dance Me to the End of Love” and shared a clearly genuine affection for each other on a sweet, mellow take on Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.”

In the first of two solo segments, Bogue sang about being a woman scorned, albeit with few regrets—defiant and in charge on a powerful “Unchain My Heart” (Bobby Sharp/F.  James/Teddy Powell); hurt but accepting in a quiet, torchy “”Don’t Explain” (Billie Holiday/Arthur J. Herzog); hot and bluesy on “I’m Gonna Cry You Out of My Mind” (Ralph Bass/Linda Hopkins/Luis Rivera); and moody and sincere on the noirish “Blue Smoke” (Tom Culver/Steve Rawlins).

In complete contrast, she was utterly endearing in her second solo set as she expressed her love and affection for the new man in her life, who was sitting ringside.  She expressed her surprise at finding love in middle age in “Love Must Be Catching” (Ray Stanley); sang about her newfound joy on “How Sweet It Is” (Brian Holland/Eddie Holland/Lamont Dozier)—with the audience spontaneously joining in on the refrain; and was wholly committed on “Because of You” (Arthur Hammerstein/Dudley Wilkinson) before closing the set with Wayne Moore’s “My Superman,” a tender, lovely tribute to her guy.

When Hall sings she displays the elegance of Lena Horne, the crisp enunciation of Eartha Kitt, and a breathy, sensual quality all her own that adds power and oomph to her performance. With a focus on songs about learning to know herself and how to control her own destiny, her solo set included a tender, full-voiced “Down Here on the Ground” (Lalo Schifrin); a sensual “I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl” (Clarence Williams/Dally Small/J. Timothy Bryman); and an enthralling, haunting This Hotel (Johnny Keating), plus a sincere “God Bless the Child” (Billie Holiday/ Arthur Herzog, Jr.) that pumped new energy into the standard.

In her second segment Hall reflected on her ability to find inner peace, encompassing a big, throaty “It’s Time for Me” (Howlett Smith/Spence Maxwell) and a contemplative, slowed-down “Man in the Mirror” (Glen Ballard/Siedah Garrett), plus an assured, expressive “An Easier Affair” (George Michael/Ruadhri Cushman/Kevin Ambrose/Niall Flynn)) and a defiant “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (Bennie Benjamin/Gloria Caldwell/Sol Marcus), in which the audience again spontaneously joined in.

Completing the evening’s magic was the Steve Rawlins Quartet, including musical director Rawlins on hot piano, Grant Geissman, featured on several powerful solos, on guitar, Gordon Peeke on drums, and Bill Markus on bass.

The Red Lipstick Blues

Metropolitan Room, NYC, December 3, 2015

Reviewed by Victoria Ordin for Cabaret Scenes

For an hour or so, Los Angeles-based blues singer Mary Bogue and her dazzling band (Musical Director Steve Rawlins on piano, Calvin Hill on bass, and Jon Mark McGowan on trumpet) transformed the Metropolitan Room into a living and breathing museum of blues. From the first moments of the spoken overture about the ugly, painful history that gave rise to the blues—set to “Ol’ Man River”—one felt Bogue’s visceral connection to the music of Billie Holliday, Etta James, Sippie Wallace, Duke Ellington, and B.B. King. Like a rhapsode, she submerges her ego to the larger drama—by turns tragic, bawdy, and funny—she presents in both story and song.

The performer personalizes “Soul Shadows” (Sample/Jennings) with her own lyrics honoring her musical forerunners. Bogue’s enthusiastic rendering of “A Bad Case of the Blues” (Ons) provided a nice set-up for “It’s Only a Man” (Borne/Webster)/“My Man,” imaginatively arranged by Steve Rawlins and Marilyn Maye. In speaking about the grande dame of New York cabaret, Bogue lovingly captured Maye’s notorious bluntness. And nowhere was her passionate resolve to overcome life’s greatest setbacks clearer than in “I’m Going to Cry You Right Out of My Mind,” written by 92-year-old Linda Hopkins, the friend Bogue calls a “living legend.”

Even when Bogue is belting and swinging, one always detects in her voice (and her expressive blue eyes) the vulnerability which draws her to this genre. “Evil Gal Blues” (Feather), “Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do,” and “Rock Me Baby” (King) were all crowd pleasers. The audience’s disappointment as the show drew to a close was palpable. In a review of this length, one cannot do justice to Bogue’s alluring presence and colorful anecdotes, so I will simply say this: The Red Lipstick Blues is a cabaret experience not to be missed.

Mary Bogue: The Red Lipstick Blues

 | November 23, 2015 0 Comments

Mary Bogue

The Red Lipstick Blues

Tom Rolla’s Gardenia, West Hollywood, CA, November 20, 2015

Reviewed by Elliot Zwiebach for Cabaret Scenes

Mary-Bogue-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212Mary Bogue is red hot! Her singing is impeccable, her emotion is palpable and the way she connects to the blues is real.

Whether singing about triumph, tragedy or down-and-dirty raunch, Bogue had her audience caught up in the grit of the music and the passion behind the lyrics — not only with her vocals, but with amazing support from Musical Director Steve Rawlins on piano, a sure-fingered Clarence Brown on bass and, particularly, from an outstanding Nolan Shaheed on trumpet. Shaheed was so strong on so many solos that reverberated through the intimate space that it took a performer as strong as Bogue to hold onto the spotlight.

And hold onto it she did, with one powerful number after another, from a hip-swinging take on “’Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do” (Porter Grainger/Everett Robbins) to the delightful “Rocks in My Bed” (Duke Ellington) to a medley of torch songs with opposite points of view — “It’s Only a Man” (Hal Borne/Paul Francis Webster), which downplays one’s emotional attachments, combined with “My Man” (Jacques Charles/Channing Pollock/Albert Willemetz/Maurice Yvain), which involves surrender of one’s emotions.

Bogue opened the show with the haunting “Soul Shadows” (Joe Sample/Will Jennings), which included some self-penned lyrics saluting the ladies who sang the blues before her, including Billie and Ella and Etta and Bessie, with particular attention to one of the survivors — Linda Hopkins, on the verge of 91, seated at ringside and clapping her hands and shaking her head in apparent enjoyment as Bogue sang. Referring to Hopkins as a national treasure, Bogue sang one of Hopkins’ own compositions (written with Luis Rivera and Ralph Bass) — “I’m Going to Cry You Right Out of My Mind” — with power, passion and deep emotion.

Along the way there were other down-and-dirty ditties, including: Sippee Wallace’s “I’m a Very Tight Woman,” which was abetted with R-rated comments from Shaheed in between trumpet blasts; Leonard Feather’s “Evil Gal Blues,” a real show-stopper that Bogue seemed to revel in; and the original version of “Hound Dog” (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller), which ended up as an audience sing-a-long with Stoller himself looking on from the audience.

Bogue had two guests in the show: Sylester Major, who displayed terrific phrasing in an appropriately dramatic “Ol’ Man River (Kern/Hammerstein) and a gentle, jazz-tinged “I Cover the Waterfront” (Johnny Green/Edward Heymann); plus Paul Horner, who — intrigued by the title of Bogue’s show in pre-show publicity — took over the piano to sing a song he wrote for the occasion called “Red Lipstick Blues,” in which lipstick becomes a metaphor for evil.

Mary Bogue is scheduled to appear at NYC’s Metropolitan Room on Dec. 3

THRILLED TO BE ONE OF THE "PICKS"

Mary Bogue

Confessions from the Heartbreak Hotel

Metropolitan Room, NYC, June 10, 2015

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

 

Photo: Angie Clement-Cromwell

Mary Bogue opened her show at the Metropolitan Room by asking, “Are you ready to have fun?” The fun does begin as soon as this present-day incarnation of Mae West takes the stage. Dressed in a tight sequined dress, Bogue commands your attention. The show is set in the imaginary Heartbreak Hotel; interspersed between the songs are confessions of the doorman, desk clerk, housekeeper, bartender and a guest at the hotel. The thoughtful collection of songs all work so that by end of the show, I felt that I had spent an evening in the Hotel.

Bogue’s opening number, an up-tempo, bluesy “Sneaking Around on You,” set the stage for the rest of the show.” She shifted gears and did a nice swinging “Travelin’ Light.” A hauntingly lovely “Mood Indigo” and beautifully sung “Under a Blanket of Blue” had a raucous “Heartbreak Hotel” sandwiched between them. Bogue sang the original “Big Mama” Thornton version of “Hound Dog,” rather than Elvis Presley’s sanitized one. The audience joined in by howling at appropriate times. Guest Craig Pomranz followed the reading of the bartender’s confession with “Scotch and Soda,” followed by “You Go to My Head.” Bogue told the moving story of her marriage to her now-deceased husband, before closing with a swinging “Blue Champagne.” The encore said it all: “One Night of Sin.” Indeed.

Mary Bogue: Confessions from the Heartbreak Hotel

 | February 17, 2015 0 Comments

Mary Bogue

Confessions from the Heartbreak Hotel

Tom Rolla’s Gardenia, West Hollywood, CA, February 7, 2015

Reviewed by Elliot Zwiebach for Cabaret Scenes

Mary-Bogue-Confessions-from-the-Heartbreak-Hotel-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212Mary Bogue seems incapable of hitting a false note, either vocally or emotionally. She is a solid singer—especially when it comes to the blues—expressing a sincerity and honesty and passion in every word and gesture, with an ability to convey complete truth at all times.

In her latest show—set in a hotel, with testaments from various employees setting up the songs—she went through a wide gamut of feelings, from the soft, romantic tenderness of “Travelin’ Light” (Sidney Clarke/Harri Akst), abetted by a moody bass solo by Lou Schoch, to a swinging, declarative “Love for Sale” (Cole Porter) to a breathy, inviting “Meet Me, Midnight” (Barry Manilow/Bruce Sussman).

Bogue was at her bluesy best in “About Last Night” (Zan Overall), expressing the emotions of the morning after a night of passion, with Steve Rawlins providing spectacular work at the keyboard. She also excelled in a laconic, evocative, romantic ballad, “Under a Blanket of Blue” (Al Neiburg/Jerry Livingston/Marty Symes) and shone on a gentle version of “The Lies of Handsome Men” (Francesca Blumenthal).

Bogue was amusing in an enticing version of “Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast” (Jerome J. Leshay/Bobby Troup) and absolutely passionate in one of her signature songs, “Blue Champagne” (Grady Watts/Frank Ryerson).

The show also featured two guest singers: Jeffrey Gimble, with a deep, sonorous reading of “Lush Life” (Billy Strayhorn) and an up-tempo take on “All the Things You Are” (Kern/Hammerstein); while Al Timss crooned his way solidly through “Me and Mrs. Jones” (Kenny Gamble/Leon Huff/Carey Gilbert), followed by a smooth version of “Heartbreak Hotel” (Mae Boren Axton/Thomas Durden) in counterpoint to Bogue singing “Black Coffee” (Sonny Burke/Paul Francis Webster) in a brilliant duet arranged by Rawlins.

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Mary Bogue

Sentimental Journey

Tom Rolla's Gardenia
West Hollywood, CA
 
Mary Bogue is a warm and gentle soul.  Beneath the glitz she wears and the verbal sass she is capable of delivering is a woman who cares deeply about the human condition—as she demonstrated in her latest show—which uses a trip on a train as a metaphor for one’s journey through life, with all its comings and goings and occasionally abrupt changes in direction.

Bogue is never better than when she’s singing the blues — whether getting past a disappointing love affair, as in the powerful wail of a down-and-dirty anthem like “I’m Going to Cry You Right Out of My Mind” (Linda Hopkins), or affirming a commitment to a relationship in a dramatic, sultry version of Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love.” She absolutely soared on a prayerful, thoughtful reading of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” as she reflected on her mother’s passing and the view of the world from above the clouds and below — a magnificent grace note to a magnificent evening.

The show opened with “Sentimental Journey” (Les Brown/Ben Homer/Bud Green) — a deep-voiced introduction to the evening’s emotional ride — and also included a solid vocal on Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me,” a swaying version of Johnny Mercer’s “Dream” (in which Bogue caressed the lyrics ever so gently), a sincere, smooth take on “Tennessee Waltz” (Pee Wee King), and a smooth, purring delivery on “Nice ‘n’ Easy” (Alan & Marilyn Bergman/Lew Spence).

Al Timss served as the “conductor” of Bogue’s train, singing a couple of songs in an easy, laid-back style — “Take the A Train” (Billy Strayhorn/Joya Sherrill) and the Mercer/Harry Warren pleaser, “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.”

Bogue had very strong musical support from a pair of veteran musicians — the steady, capable Ron Snyder on piano and the versatile Dave Fortin on bass and trumpet.

Elliot Zwiebach
Cabaret Scenes
April 20, 2014
www.cabaretscenes.org

 
     
 

Mary Bogue

Boudoirs, Bordellos & The Blues

Metropolitan Room
New York, NY
 

 

 

 

 

 

In the tradition of Mae West and Sophie Tucker, but uniquely Mary Bogue, the West Coast big-voiced belter burst onto the stage of the Metropolitan Room with her show Boudoirs, Bordellos and the Blues. Bogue is a performer whose stage presence makes it virtually impossible to take your eyes off her.

The show was a fast-paced collection of sassy songs and very funny patter with three tenderly performed ballads included for a nice change of pace. Bogue’s opening number, “Rock Me, Baby,” set the tone for the next 75 minutes. It was followed by a tender “Don’t Go to Strangers” and a very sexy Mae West-ish “Light My Fire.” She then did a funny duet with her very talented trumpter David Fortin: “Romance in the Dark.” Fortin did two very nice vocals on “You Made Me Love You (I DIdn't Want to Do It)” and “Tenderly” while Bogue changed into a stunning red-sequined dress. Bogue then performed a slow,  bluesy “Nightlife” followed by a very moving “Love for Sale.” Her closing number,  “Save Your Love for Me,” allowed Bogue to show off her chops as a brassy blues singer. The encore was a loud and rousing “It Ain’t the Meat, It’s the Motion.”

Ron Forman
Cabaret Scenes
July 31, 2013
www.cabaretscenes.org

 

 

around the town


Mary Bogue came roaring into town from LA with her new show at The Metropolitan Room “Boudoirs, Bordellos & The Blues” on 
July 31, 2013.           

By: Linda Amiel Burns

Mary Bogue is one of the last of the "Red Hot Mamas' and heated up The Metropolitan Room on July 31st with her show "Boudoirs, Bordellos & The Blues." Her terrific trio consisted of Steve Rawlins, her pianist, and David Fortin, on trumpet and vocals, who came in from LA for the show along with NY's Rex Benincasa on the drums.


Mary is a big woman and the tight black dress that she wore showed a lot of cleavage that I initially found distracting until I realized that is whom this jazz vocalist is, a woman not afraid to show what she's got. The show opened with B.B. Kings "Rock Me Baby" and then slowed things down with "Don't Go to Strangers" the title song of her new album that she came to NY to promote. Her patter did not always set up her material, but the program was varied, interesting and at times riveting. I particularly enjoyed "Nice Girls Don't Stay for Breakfast" written by Bobby Troup and Jerome J. Leshay and The Doors rhythmic and sexy "Light My Fire."


When Mary left the stage, her trumpet player David Fortin sang "Tenderly" and then "You Made Me Love You" and not only showed his great jazz vocals, but also his virtuosity on the horn. Mary returned to the stage in a red sequined dress, which fit the title of her show's bawdy theme and sang Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me To The End of Love." One of the highlights was the arrangement of "Love For Sale" (Cole Porter) that Mary performed as a tired aging hooker and was very moving.


From what I gather, Mary only began singing in 2006 and has made a name for herself on the LA jazz scene. She can be loud and bawdy as in "It Ain't The Meat, It's The Motion," yet tender on ballads such as Willie Nelson's "Night Life." I found out after the show that Mary is also a real trouper as she became ill on the plane and had spent the day in an Urgent Care Center. You would never have guessed it as she gave an extraordinarily good performance as her strong bluesy voice rang out at The Metropolitan Room.


Bubba Jackson, the host of KKJZ, is quoted as saying that Mary Bogue is a "compilation of yesterday's divas swinging today in real time, a reflection of the Ladies of Jazz who set the bar high with distinction...she is the real deal!" Yes, Mary Bogue is the real thing and we are looking forward to having her back in NY. However, in the meantime, you can listen to her CD, "Don't Go To Strangers" which is available on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby. Visit www.MaryBogue.com

   
     
 

Mary Bogue

Boudoirs, Bordellos and the Blues

Tom Rolla's Gardenia
West Hollywood, CA
 
Mary Bogue is the real deal.  With a full, flawless voice that can melt an audience’s heart, raise its spirits or tickle its funny bone, she is always in complete control of the room.  She sings with truth and sincerity and honesty and passion — whether she’s being raucous and bawdy or sweet and vulnerable.

Bogue is very good at being bawdy.  Like Mae West, it’s not what she says as much as how she says it or, in her case, how she sings it, as she demonstrated with down-and-dirty blues songs like “I’m a Mighty Tight Woman” (Sippie Wallace) and “It Ain’t the Meat (It’s the Motion)” (Henry Glover/Lois Mann).

But she’s also very good at conveying vulnerability, particularly in “Blue Champagne” (Grady Walls/Frank Ryerson/Jimmy Eaton), pouring out her emotions as she recalled the romantic getaways she and her late husband used to take, or in “Don’t Go to Strangers” (Arthur Kent/Dave Mann/Redd Evans), demonstrating calm and longing in a breathy, beautiful rendition.

The musical trio backing her up was superb:  Ron Snyder, consistently effective on piano; Mike Smith on percussion, particularly outstanding on “Save Your Love for Me” (Woodrow “Buddy” Johnson); and especially David Fortin on trumpet, whose powerful backing enhanced several songs throughout the evening.

Bogue can sing a ballad with the best there ever was, using her evocative delivery to score on a smooth, slowed-down version of “Light My Fire” (Ray Manzarek/Robby Krieger) that added a new level of sensuality to the rock classic, a straight-forward, reflective version of “It’s Only a Man” (Paul Francis Webster/Hal Borne), and a bluesy reading of “Night Life” (Willie Nelson), which she related to an evening of talking with strippers who were getting too old for the game.

One of the evening’s highlights was a steaming-hot version of “Romance in the Dark” (Lillian “Lil” Green), in which Bogue and guest Larry Davis demonstrated their mastery of performance — simulating some very sexy moments, including a lot of groping and grinding, without ever missing a note.

Davis, who sings with casual elegance and a style uniquely his own, conveyed sincerity on two solos:  Joe Turner’s “Cherry Red” and Bernice Petkere’s “Close Your Eyes.”

Elliot Zwiebach
Cabaret Scenes
February 8, 2013

www.cabaretscenes.org

In Tune INTERNATIONAL
THE ONLY MONTHLY MAGAZINE IN THE WORLD FOR LOVERS OF THE GOLDEN AGE OF POPULAR MUSIC
*** NOW 25 YEARS OLD! ***
No 247 SEPTEMBER 2012


TWENTY FIVE YEARS OF IN TUNE INSIDE - ALL YOUR USUAL REGULARS AND MORE
Dan Singer from New York City turns the spotlight on some overlooked Singers of the past and some bright newcomers, all of which are Singer's Singers.

Mary Bogue "Don't Go To Strangers" Dance Me To Stardust Records www.lentriola.com

In Mary Bogue’s unique 13-song disc debut she conveys many profound moods. For example, hearing the title song (Kent/Masen/Evans) is a one of a kind emotional experience. Mary slowly underlines all the important lyrics wonderfully getting down to its heartbreaking message. Wait until you hear the crafty assist of her gifted pianist Karen Hernandez. I have never before heard the verse of the oldie "Blue Champagne" (Watts/Ryerson/Eaton). It's such a delight. Listen for a bright shinging tenor sax solo by Rickey Woodard. She is all over the scale throughout her well befitting presentation. He and Mary make this song glitter. "Both Sides Now" (Mitchell) ignites with an extraordinary assist by an unusual trio of piano, viola and cello. Mary really gets much more out of this song than I have ever heard before. "Fly Me To The Moon" (Howard) is swung delicately yet very very loosely in a most original arrangement. An obscure Nellie Lutcher penned song "Kinda Blue And Low" receives a most rewarding swing go around. Listen for a delightfully wild frantic violin by Jimbo Ross. It will knock you out. And then there’s a powerfully stated " Mood Indigo" (Ellington/Mills/Bigard) where she's in a take no prisoners mood. Her talented trumpet player Nolan Shaheed states his case remarkably. The pair just can't be bettered. The blues really come alive in Ms. Bogue’s hands.

coffeetalkjazzradioshow.mp3

We had a time tonight on CoffeeTalk Jazz Radio with my girl, Jazz vocalist Mary Bogue. Her latest project "Don’t Go To Strangers" is a celebratory collection of songs inspired by her life experiences and by the great singers of the 30's 40's and 50’s. 


Her voice and style are truly reminiscent of smoke-filled piano bars paying homage to the old jazz greats with a modern twist. Listen to Mood Indigo, Black Coffee and more, the music will take you to a place back in time. Her straight-forward delivery with a throwback to the classic jazz singers is so appealing. Her musical personality is truly refreshing…a Star is born!!!
Ms. Bridgette Lewis Executive Producer “Coffee Talk Jazz Radio, Los Angeles, August 9, 2012

Mary Bogue

Twist@Hollywood Renaissance Hotel
Hollywood, CA

Listening to Mary Bogue sing, the only reaction is “wow!”  Whether caressing the lyrics to classic ballads like “Don’t Go to Strangers” (Arthur Kent/Dave Mann/Redd Evans) or “Because of You,” wailing on the bluesy “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water” (Senator Jones/Eddie Rasberry) or Leonard Feather/Lionel Hampton’s “Evil Gal Blues,” or singing that she likes her men like her coffee, “Hot, Strong and Black” (Karen Hernandez)—in an amusing duet with the legendary Les McCann—Bogue delivers the goods.


She sang with power, heart and impeccable grace—particularly in a tribute to her late husband, Rob, in a sultry “Blue Champagne” (Grady Watts/Frank Ryerson/Jimmy Eaton)—and she brought the house down with “Sugar on the Floor” and a brilliant arrangement by Steve Rawlins of Bart Howard’s “Fly Me to the Moon,” singing a jazz line while the musicians toyed with the melody, all to superb effect.


Bogue was constantly in the moment, swinging and swaying and feeling the music along with a stage full of great musicians—Hernandez and Rawlins alternating on piano, Jim DeJulio and Leslie Baker alternating on bass, Nolan Shaheed on trumpet, Randy Woodard on saxophone and Frank Wilson on drums.


Elliot Zwiebach
Cabaret Scenes
March 25, 2012

www.cabaretscenes.org

 

Mary Bogue is hot.  Tom Culver is mellow.  Together they kept an audience’s rapt attention during a pre-Christmas concert as one raised the temperature while the other cooled things down — a truly winning combination.

Bogue is a big woman with a big talent — a kind of throwback to the “red-hot mamas” of another era who could belt with the best of them, then pull back and score on a solid heartbreaker of a song.  That’s what Bogue did — delivering a naughty “What Do Bad Girls Get?” (Joan Osborne), followed by a poignant version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (Hugh Martin) that tugged at all the right strings.

There was also a swinging “Christmas in New Orleans” (Dick Sherman, Joseph Van Winkle) and a down-and-dirty “Christmas Blues” (Sammy Cahn/David Jack Holt) — featuring a solid bass solo from James Leary — plus “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (Kim Gannon/Walter Kent/Buck Ram) that was a bit disappointing as Bogue jazzed up the tempo to emphasize style over content.

Culver was outstanding on two of his own songs — a gentle, sublime “First Snow,” which he wrote with Effie Joy, and “I Love the Holidays,” which he wrote with Rick Hills and Holly Addy.  Though Culver generally sings most songs exactly as written, he broke his pattern when he teamed with drummer Jack LeCompte for a pleasant “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” (Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne) that featured a calypso beat.   He also scored on a powerful version of “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” (Frank Loesser).

Despite their different styles, Bogue and Culver found enough common ground for a couple of strong duets:  “Happy Holiday” (Irving Berlin), which served as the evening’s opener and closer; and a clever mash-up of Berlin’s “White Christmas” by a sweet-sounding Culver with “Blue Christmas” (Billy Hayes/Jay W. Johnson) from a strong-voiced Bogue.  Culver also did a superb job with “Jingle Bells” — taking the Billy May/Dave Cavanaugh arrangement written for Peggy Lee that combined the traditional song with the refrain, “I like a sleigh ride,” sung by the powerful trio of Pierre Chambers, Lisa Herbert and Mitch Ellis.  The trio also harmonized to perfection on its own on a slow, deliberate “Christmas Time Is Here” (Vince Guaraldi) from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Aiding and abetting all the singers was Musical Director Steve Rawlins.

Elliot Zwiebach
Cabaret Scenes
December 22, 2011

www.cabaretscenes.org

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