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Mark Winkler: Old Friends

C. Michael Bailey BY

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Mark Winkler: Old Friends
The appeal of singer and lyricist Mark Winkler is not that he has an outstanding vocal instrument. Rather, it is uniquely unique; easily identifiable. Winkler has what Broadway composers once called a "lyricist's voice." It is a voice of a song writer that is honest and genuine and that is where Winkler gets to the listener. A serious artist, he never sounds as if he takes himself too seriously (much like Dean Martin). And, therein lies his charm. Winkler's voice is friendly and approachable. Friendly. Friends. It all comes together.

Friendship is a trajectory through Winkler's output, Most recently, he released The Company I Keep (Cafe Pacific, 2017), a recording whose cover features Winkler with some of his closest musical friends, most also vocalists (including, Barbara Brighton (who produced the present recording), Lauren White, Jeffrey Gimble, Judy Wexler, and Dolores Scozzesi. How about those pals?). Additionally, Winkler has made notable duet recordings with another friend, Cheryl Bentyne both for Cafe Pacific Records (West Coast Cool ( 2013) and Eastern Standard Time (2018)). Winkler has talent and spotlight and freely shares both.

Old Friends is a redux of sorts with another friend, pianist David Benoit. The two men have known one another for nearly 40 years, their paths crossing and crossing again. They join for this aptly named recording to celebrate that friendship in a manner that highlights the strengths both men bring to music. Winkler, ever the songwriter, programs a recital of songs from the best of writers, anchored with Paul Simon's 1968 tome of perfection, rendered with affection and admiration. Add in Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going To Rain Today," Leonard Bernstein's "Some Other Time," wedge in well with Dave Frishberg' homey "Sweet Kentucky Ham."

Winkler and Benoit click on Bob Dorough's "I've Got Just About Everything," a song and song writer for whom Winkler has great affinity. The song is presented as all that open a disc or set should: up-tempo with full orchestration. The two leaders select an eclectic group of supporting artists in bassist Gabe Davis, drummer Clayton Cameron, and guitarist Pat Kelley. Cellist Stefanie Fife accents the original composition "Dragonfly," while percussionist Kevin Winard fills all spaces on "In A Quiet Place." While jazz programming hardly needs another vocal offering, it does need those as well paced and carefully considered as Old Friends, which reminds us of what is important.

Track Listing

I’ve Got Just About Everything; Sweet Kentucky Ham; The Shadow of Your Smile; Better Than Anything; Two for the Road; Old Friends / Bookends; When This Love Affair Is Over; I Think It’s Going to Rain Today; In a Quiet Place Kei’s Song; I Wish I’d Met You; Dragonfly; Thirty Years (Only Sunshine Days); Some Other Time.

Personnel

Mark Winkler: voice / vocals; David Benoit: piano; Gabe Davis: bass, acoustic; Clayton Cameron: drums; Pat Kelley: guitar; Stefanie Fife: cello; Kevin Winard: drums.

Album information

Title: Old Friends | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Cafe Pacific Records

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