Tom Culver: I Remember You
Songs of Johnny Mercer
Tom Culver on Vocals
Karen Hernandez on Piano
Rick Hils on Piano, Guitar, Organ, Synthesizer
Jack Le Compte on Drums/Percussion
Jim Jedeikin on Saxophone and Flute
Ricky Woodard on Saxophone
Nolan Shaheed on Trumpet
Don Littleton on Congas
Gerryck King on Drums
Geoff Nudell on Clarinet
Tom Bethke on Guitar
Lou Shoch on Bass
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 30, 2014
This CD is a nightclub’s worth of standards, with Tom Culver crooning 18 tunes. Johnny Mercer, in collaboration with la crème de la crème of composers, like Henry Mancini and Harold Arlen, wrote so much of the music we associate with America’s crooners, from the 1930’s to the 1950’s, and to this day. This album is an homage to Johnny Mercer. Tom Culver is joined by an ensemble of eleven musicians on piano, bass, drums, guitars, clarinet, saxes, congas, flute, trumpet, organ, and synthesizer. On some tracks, Mr. Culver stands off the recording stage to give his artists some tremendous instrumental solos, duos, and ensemble showcases. Not mentioned below, for reasons of space, are tracks with superb saxophone passages from Jim Jedeikin (“Fools Rush In”) and Ricky Woodard (“I Remember You”). Also, Geoff Nudell plays an enchanting clarinet on “And the Angels Sing”.
#3 – Day In – Day Out - Composed by J. Mercer/R. Bloom. Tom Culver belts this song, with generous piano accompaniment from Karen Hernandez. Jack Le Compte on percussion and Don Littleton on congas bring out a clavé rhythmic tempo. One could fast foxtrot to this number, with its upbeat mood. Mr. Culver’s vocals are mature and punctuated. There are a couple of nice orchestral flourishes from synthesized strings.
#9 – Harlem Butterfly – Composed by J. Mercer. On this track, a muted and full-throated trumpet (Nolan Shaheed) is featured for a very retro, uptown feel, with Lou Shock on bass. This song sways, rather than swings, in bluesy, midnight refrains. It’s an un-rushed, melodic trip back in time. Johnny Mercer wrote both music and lyrics.
#11 – Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home – Composed by J. Mercer/H. Arlen. Once again, this track is slow and smooth, with muted trumpet and Rick Hils on guitar. It has a honkytonk sound, evoking an after-hours set, well past midnight. Harold Arlen composed the music, and Mr. Mercer wrote the lyrics. This song first appeared in the musical St. Louis Woman in 1946.
#14 – Charade – Composed by J. Mercer/H. Mancini. This was my favorite track, a fantastic rendition, lyrics by Mr. Mercer and music by Henry Mancini, of the title song of the 1963 film. The song was nominated for the 1964 Academy Award for best song. The special, scintillating musical effects that open and close this track are eloquent. Gerryck King plays drums, and Tom Bethke has an extensive guitar riff that reconstructs the melody.