Mark Winkler: Easy the Hard Way


Sign in to view read count
P>Long a fixture on the West Coast smooth jazz scene, Mark Winkler for his 6th album moves closer to contemporary adult pop seasoned with a large dash of straight ahead jazz, with a style which combines the hip Mark Murphy, the irony of Dave Frishberg with the respect for melody of Tony Bennett. Accompanied by sympathetic musicians, Winkler story tells his way through a play list of twelve tunes, seven of which he wrote. And a prolific composer is Mr. Winkler, having penned more than 350 tunes. This number is more than a mere statistic as they have been recorded by the likes of Liza Minelli, Nancy Wilson and Randy Crawford. Winkler has also written for the currently stage musical Naked Boys Singing! and for a son to open musical Too Old for the Chorus.

There's a lot of good stuff on this album. One of the fun tracks is the Winkler duet with premier English vocalist, Claire Martin, on Frank Loesser's "Baby It's Cold Outside". Although hippier than the classic Dinah Shore/Buddy Clark and Margaret Whiting/Johnny Mercer versions of the 1940's, with the much more liberal attitude toward sex these days, the situation in the song is less titillating than in the straightlaced 1940's.

Winkler's songs fall on the side of melancholy, reciting tales of unrequited love, failed affairs, loneliness and desolation. But the lyrics manage to avoid being cloying or maudlin. "Another Night" describes how "the radio is turned down low, with the sax playing something softly in the dark", a scenario begging for romance, instead there's the nothingness solitude brings." Easy the Hard Way" is a modern adult contemporary approach to Frank Sinatra's My Way. It swings and bounces as the Winkler lyrics relate the misfortunes of a "bad reputation" and other human failings with the protagonist assuming a "I don't care" attitude. Winkler also visits tunes written by others which match his droll, off hand vocal style. "Like Young" is done with just the gutsy guitar of Anthony Wilson. Horace Silver's "Lonely Woman" gets a thoughtful interpretation by Winkler with Billy Childs' introspective piano providing the main backing, enhanced by Greg Hutchinson's riffling cymbals providing the appropriate accents.

Winkler gets yeoman support throughout this session. Bob Sheppard's Plas Johnson sounding tenor saxophone is present on three tunes bring a bit of soul to the proceedings. Although he shows up for just one tune, veteran Bobby Shew's muted trumpet work on "Ellen's Song" is a delight. The various rhythm sections all do their job a level above mere competence. Mr. Winkler may have hit the jackpot with this album which is recommended. Visit Mark at his web site at http://www.markwinklermusic.com.

Tracks:Trio; Easy the Hard Way$; Like Young#; Lonely Woman; Baby, It's Cold Outside*; Toys in the Attic; Ellen's Song@; Kelly's Moods#; Empty Bed; Another Night$; Like Jazz$; Quiet Fire

Personnel: Mark Winkler - Vocal; Billy Childs, Gareth Williams* - Piano; Bob Hurst, Arnie Somogyi*, Bob Maize - Bass; Greg Hutchinson - Drums; Jon Mayer - Piano/B3 Hammond Organ; Greg Hutchinson, Roy McCurdy, Ralph Salmins - Drums; Claire Martin* - Vocals; Anthony Wilson - Guitar#; Bob Sheppard - Saxophone$; Bobby Shew@ - Trumpet; Geoff Gillette$ - Fingersnaps

Title: Easy the Hard Way | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: ChartMaker Records


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read The Princess CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Latin Lover CD/LP/Track Review Latin Lover
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Reclamation CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Landed in Brooklyn" CD/LP/Track Review Landed in Brooklyn
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 3, 2017
Read "Trinity One" CD/LP/Track Review Trinity One
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 31, 2017
Read "Float Upstream" CD/LP/Track Review Float Upstream
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 26, 2017
Read "2468 West Grand Boulevard" CD/LP/Track Review 2468 West Grand Boulevard
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: December 27, 2016
Read "Meet Me At Minton's" CD/LP/Track Review Meet Me At Minton's
by James Nadal
Published: June 17, 2017
Read "Floating City" CD/LP/Track Review Floating City
by James Nadal
Published: March 9, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor