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Mark Winkler: I'm With You

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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Regarding tribute albums—a seemingly endless flow these days -it's a rarity when the honoree, the material and the performance mesh so perfectly. Los Angeles vocalist/songwriter/educator Mark Winkler's I'm With You fits that description to a T—in this case Bobby Troup. This effort, a hip, hip array of Troup's iconic material is a marvelously presented and performed gem.

Troup was a fascinating and prodigious talent—vocalist, pianist, composer and actor. His written material and recordings were always "with it," quirky and cool-swinging. He was a story-teller. Now pan to Winkler. This is an artist whose voice is a sparkler, whose lyric interpretation is balletic and who swings tales heavy. I'm With You retains all the flair of Troup's West Coast Cool with a new sheen that glows brightly.

The well-known Troup canon is here, explored by Winkler and three different crews of the West Coast's finest rhythm makers. From the start, Winkler and his team dive into the fray with Troup's timeless travelog, "Route 66." The hipster number, "Triskaidekaphobia" (here duetted with Renaissance man, drummer/vocalist/raconteur Dave Tull) is a "zoot" hoot. Two versions of food fare, "Hungry Man"—one a hilarious Halloween version -have Winkler and team cooking the menu. His emotional breadth is evident on the longing of "Please Belong to Me," his gorgeous take "It Happened Once Before," and the love story "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring." The guy is positively infectious on the B3-driven title swinger, on the just right "Three Bears" and snazzy "Lemon Twist." One can easily discern that Winkler has a sincere affinity for Troup (this is his second album of Troup material) and it is evident that he's done his homework well.

Winkler's cohorts buy into the joy throughout the session. Guitarist Grant Geissman shines as do saxophonists Ricky Woodward ("Please Belong to Me") and Bob Sheppard (on both "Hungry Man" versions). The rhythm sections throughout are stellar and never outshine.

Whether one is familiar with Bobby Troup—or Winkler, for that matter—I'm with You is an enjoyable way to invite these two gentleman along on one's listening journey. There may be little of the original Route 66 highway remaining. However, I'm With You is a superb companion to take on a long ride. Superb all-around.

Track Listing: Route 66; Please Belong to Me; Triskaidekaphobia; I'm With You; It Happened Once Before; Three Bears; Their Hearts Were Full of Spring; Hungry Man; In No Time; Snootie Little Cutie; Lemon Twist; Hangry Man (Halloween Version).

Personnel: Mark Winkler: vocals; Rich Eames: piano (1-4, 9, 10); Gabe Davis: bass; Dave Tull: drums, vocals (3); Grant Geissman: guitar (11); Anthony Wilson: guitar; Joe Bagg: Hammond B3; Mark Ferber: drums; Tracks 6,8,12: Jon Mayer: piano (6, 8, 12); Kevin Axt: bass; Roy McCurdy: drums; Bob Sheppard: sax. Additional Musicians: Ann Patterson: flute (10); Rickey Woodward: sax (2); Jamieson Trotter: Hammond B3 (4).

Title: I'm With You | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Cafe Pacific Records

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