6

Mark Winkler: The Company I Keep

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
The utility of music, at its very core, is entertainment. It is not all about dissonance and consonance, tonal conflict and resolution; heart and intellect, pathos and ethos. Somewhere in everything music has to offer, there must be a smile. It is in music's smile that vocalist Mark Winkler exists. An elegant West Coast mainstay, vocalist/lyricist/composer Winkler, drove across my radar first with his 2011 recording Sweet Spot (Café Pacific Records). I was struck by how well Winkler could skirt the orbit of con brio cabaret singing, with its fun, entertainment core, and remain completely fixed in his capacity of jazz singer and composer.

Winkler followed Sweet Spot with his bold 2013 release, The Laura Nyro Project (Café Pacific Records). An exceptional duet recording with The Manhattan Transfer's Cheryl Bentyne, West Coast Cool (Summit Records, 2013) came next, followed by the fun and good-natured Jazz and Other Four Letter Words (Café Pacific Records, 2015).

Winkler had a period of personal loss in 2016 that would have crushed lesser musical mortals. Rather than dwell in the loss, Winkler circled his wagons, and, by wagons I mean his friends, producing the present recording, The Company I Keep. The recording is tacitly a duets recording, where Winkler shares singing duties with the likes of Jackie Ryan "Walk Between the Raindrops" and Steve Tyrell "But It Still Ain't So." Sometimes the duets are with musicians: pianists David Benoit, Josh Nelson and Eric Reed join Winkler regular Jamison Trotter in providing the singer support. Add to this the contributions of reeds player Bob Sheppard and a picture is complete. With friends like that, how can one go wrong.

The recording, engineering, and sonics are exceptional, as well as the arrangements (mostly by Trotter). The project is composed of a a dozen pieces, half with lyrics composed by Winkler and half carefully selected by him and his cohorts. Beautifully, the "standards" (if you will) are not so standard. Donald Fagan's "Walk Between Raindrops," shared with Ryan and Prince's "Strollin'" shared with Cheryl Bentyne are pure genius in song selection. What is amply apparent is that Winkler is enjoying himself and his friends and vice versa. "Stolen Moments" with Claire Martin (using the late Mark Murphy's lyrics) and "Rainproof," sung with Sara Gazarek (this latter with Winkler lyrics) demonstrates Winkler's artistic resilience and determination.

Winkler's complete dedication to his friends is also expressed in the cover art, which includes West Coast dignitaries well known to our electronic pages (in no particular order): Lauren White, Jeffrey Gimble, Barbara Brighton, Andrew Abaria, Richard Winkler, Judy Wexler, and Dolores Scozzesi. Mark Winkler, I am so glad you (we) have them all.

Track Listing: Walk Between The Raindrops; Strollin'; Midnight In Paris; But It Still Ain't So; That Afternoon In Harlem; They Can't Take That Away From Me; Stolen Moments; Love Comes Quietly; Rainproof; The Sum; Lucky To Be Me; Here's To Life.

Personnel: Mark Winkler: vocals; Jackie Ryan: vocals (1); Jamieson Trotter: piano (1, 2, 4, 6, 7), Hammond B-3 (4); Lyman Medeiros: bass (1, 2, 4, 6, 10, 11); Mike Shapiro: drums (1, 2, 6, 10); Bob McChesney: trombone (1, 5, 7); Ron Blake: trumpet (1, 7); Brian Swartz: trumpet (1, 7); Bob Sheppard: saxophone (1, 4, 7, 9, 10), clarinet (11); Cheryl Bentyne: vocals (2); Larry Koonse: guitar (2, 3); Rich Eames: piano (3, 12); John Clayton: bass (3, 7-9); Jeff Hamilton: drums (3, 5, 7-9); Don Shelton: clarinet (3); Paul Cartwright: violin (3); Bob Mann: guitars (4); Kevin Winard: drums (4), percussion (10); Eric Reed: piano (5, 8); John Beasley: piano (10); David Benoit: piano (11).

Title: The Company I Keep | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Cafe Pacific Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Alto Gusto CD/LP/Track Review Alto Gusto
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Flow CD/LP/Track Review Flow
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Originals For the Originals CD/LP/Track Review Originals For the Originals
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Killing Bugs CD/LP/Track Review Killing Bugs
by Kevin Press
Published: November 20, 2017
Read The Way of It CD/LP/Track Review The Way of It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Tag Book CD/LP/Track Review Tag Book
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "Pekka" CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "Liquid Melodies" CD/LP/Track Review Liquid Melodies
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 1, 2017
Read "Synesthesia" CD/LP/Track Review Synesthesia
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 29, 2017
Read "The Lovers card" CD/LP/Track Review The Lovers card
by James Nadal
Published: August 15, 2017
Read "Reunion – Live From Cafe Oto" CD/LP/Track Review Reunion – Live From Cafe Oto
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 5, 2017
Read "The Return of Art Pepper" CD/LP/Track Review The Return of Art Pepper
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 8, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor