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Dennis Tufano: I Remember Darin
Catalina Jazz Club
Hollywood, Calif., June 14, 2012

There are perhaps a few performers that you go to see more than once - someone whose music you like, someone who puts on a good show, someone who always brings something new to the game.

And then there's Dennis Tufano.

Totally in a class by himself, this dynamic performer never fails to top himself. You think you've just seen the best show he could possibly put on, and then you go to see him again, and he's kicked everything up a notch or two beyond what you saw from him last time. And that's saying a lot because this is a man who can put on more than one show each evening, comes out and greets his fans after each show - always being gracious and warm, posing for pictures, signing autographs - and gives each show every considerable atom of energy he's got.

His insurmountable energy, his determination to give his audience the best possible experience they could have, his charm and humor, and then there's that voice. The warm baritone that can induce heartfelt tears from a tender ballad. The swingin' voice that gets people clapping and swaying. The rockin' blues voice that gets to the heart of the matter and pulls you to your feet with so much adrenalin you think the place will collapse - it can't possibly hold in all this enthusiasm and wonderment.

He is a consummate, masterful entertainer, and his Bobby Darin show is an entrancing journey through one of music's not-so-shabby-himself performer's musical genius.

At the beautiful, intimate Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood on a lovely June evening, Dennis Tufano and the Michael Acosta Orchestra spent nearly two hours burning through the Darin catalog and setting new entertainment records. The 22 song set reads like a delectable menu of some of music's best entrees: Dream Lover, Queen of the Hop, Splish Splash, Beyond the Sea, Nature Boy, How Can I Be Sure, 18 Yellow Roses, If I Were a Carpenter, Simple Song of Freedom, Funny What Love Can Do, As Long As I'm Singing, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, Up a Lazy River, Livin' For You, My Funny Valentine, Sway, The Curtain Falls, That's All, Don't You Care, Mercy Mercy Mercy, Kind of a Drag, and Mack the Knife!

Dennis Tufano not only sings, plays blues harp and guitar, he also educates. Before many of the songs, he took the time to explain how the song came about, or how it fit into the Bobby Darin repertoire. He explained how "Beyond the Sea," was Bobby's warm-up song in his dressing room. Or how "Up a Lazy River," was a Hoagie Carmichael tune. Simple introductions that then informed the song and made it more meaningful.

The smokin' Michael Acosta Orchestra ratcheted up the tunes and played with everything they had. Paul McDonald's piano stylings on "My Funny Valentine" were intimate and poignant. Howie Anderson traded licks on guitar with Dennis Tufano on blues harp. Rick Guetschow rocked his bass, giving a nice jazz feel to the joint. Musical director Michael Acosta on sax and Jon Papenbrook on trumpet sounded like an entire brass section. Wayne Peet's keyboards and organ were second to none, and Sammy Kestenholtz ("Sammy K") on drums matched the enthusiasm of the crowd with his passionate beats.

Of special note is Ivan Zawinul, the son of composer Joe Zawinul, who wrote "Mercy Mercy Mercy," one of The Buckingham's many hits. Ivan was the fantastic sound engineer for the show.

Even Bo Donaldson (Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods) showed up on his own birthday, and sat in on keyboards for a number. "That kid's pretty good for 17!"

The energy, the musicianship, the camaraderie, the intimate setting, the superlative vocals and good vibes all added up to an evening that will not be soon forgotten. Dennis Tufano continues to be a force to be reckoned with. One can only imagine what energy levels would be reached were Mr. Darin still with us and able to jump onstage with Mr. Tufano. Still, it's not far-fetched at all to think Dennis Tufano keeps pushing his wonderful Bobby Darin show to higher heights - the kind Mr. Darin would have done himself.

Catch your breath and tell your local theater you want them to bring this show to your town. Don't wait until Hurricane season is over, this show will bring the best kind of musical storm your way. The line forms on the right, babe!

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