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Mark Winkler: Sweet Spot

C. Michael Bailey By

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Track review of "But Not For Me"

For all of his musical bona fides, Mark Winkler is no more a jazz singer than Jim Caruso or Michael Buble. In spite of the fact that he attracted the best of the best in his sidemen—bassist Robert Hurst, pianist Billy Childs and drummer Gregory Hutchinson—for Sweet Spot, he remains something else. The point being, that whatever kind of singer Winker is, it is beside the point. Like Caruso's Swing Set (Yellow Sound Label, 2011), Sweet Spot captures the art of the cabaret singer, the suave stylist with wit and perfect intonation.

Perfect intonation or not, Winkler, like Caruso, possesses that most important vocal element for a singer—a distinctive voice. Winkler's sonics are less than perfect, his voice too refined to contain grit, possessing a rasp that makes it unique—and, more importantly, identifiable. Add this to his keen arranger's ear and Winkler turns a standard like "But Not for Me" on its ear.

Childs introduces the Gershwin classic with a quote from the Miles Davis songbook, using Red Garland's original introduction to Davis' 1956 Prestige recording of "If I Were a Bell," from Relaxin' With the Miles Davis Quintet. Winkler casts the song as originally sung by Judy Garland in Girl Crazy. This is not your mother's Chet Baker cover; Winkler means business, singing crisply with superb support. A splendid bass solo sums up the rendition that is as tasteful as it is creative and emotive.

Track Listing: Like Young; Catch Me if You Can; But Not For Me; Sweet Spot; This Side Of Loving; Somewhere In Brazil (West Coast); After Hours; On Broadway; Jazz is a Special Taste; Some Other Sunset; Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring; Somewhere In Brazil (East Coast).

Personnel: Mark Winkler: vocals; Eli Brueggemann: piano; Tim Emmons: bass; Steve Barnes: drums; Bob Sheppard: sax; Kim Richmond: sax; Grant Geissman: guitar; Billy Childs: piano; Greg Hutchinson: drums; Anthony Wilson; guitar; Nolan Shaheed: trumpet; Robert Hurst: bass; Luis Conte: percussion.

Title: Sweet Spot | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Cafe Pacific Records

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