Mark Winkler

“Over a three-decade career, singer/songwriter
Mark Winkler has released more than a dozen albums, and written
songs performed by top vocalists including Randy Crawford,
Dianne Reeves and Liza Minnelli. On
Sweet Spot he brings together all of that experience, plus some
superb musicians, to create a collection of songs perfect for a late night club
performance—or for anytime listening anywhere else, come to think of it.”

 

“Winkler has name-checked Mark
Murphy
as a particular influence. On Sweet Spot, he
doesn’t quite have Murphy’s hipster cool or vocal power, but he does have a
talent for storytelling, for interpreting a lyric with flair. He treats the
standards with respect, but he’s also happy to explore their less usual
elements. On the Gershwins’ “But Not For Me,” which swings beautifully thanks to
the superb bass and drums of Tim Emmons and Steve
Barnes
, Winkler sings the opening verse, something many other singers
leave out, and adds a vocalese part written by Georgie
Fame
.”

Bobby Troup is one of Winkler’s
favorite songwriters, as his 2003 album Sings Bobby Troup
(Rhombus Records) testifies. Troup is represented here by “Their Hearts Were
Full Of Spring,” a melancholy love song with lyrics that could easily descend
into self-parody. Winkler, accompanied solely by Anthony
Wilson
‘s sparse and empathic guitar, avoids the pitfall, investing the
tale with real pathos.”

“Winkler’s own songs are a delight—often funny,
occasionally melancholy but always displaying a sharp way with a lyric, and some
wry observation. “Sweet Spot,” co-written with Geoffrey Leigh
Tozer
, is a late night, slightly risqué, blues enlivened by a honking
saxophone solo from Bob Sheppard and the funky vocals of
Barbara Morrison.”

“Somewhere In Brazil (West Coast)” and its close
cousin “Somewhere In Brazil (East Coast)” are beautifully observed and humorous
stories, sung by Winkler in the role of a cynical and somewhat deluded bar
singer. Sheppard’s flute adds atmosphere and pianist Eli
Brueggmann
, credited with “disgruntled guest vocal,” cranks up the
satire as the weary and even more cynical keyboard player. And anyone who has
the effrontery to rhyme “What a square though” with “Astrud Gilberto” deserves
praise.”

“Winkler’s more tender and romantic side comes to
the fore on “This Side Of Loving,” with Nolan Shaheed‘s
considered and emotive muted trumpet perfectly matching the mood of the song.
It’s Winkler’s ability to move between moods, from romance to up-tempo swing to
dry humor and back again, that make Sweet Spot such an engaging
collection.”

Bruce Lindsay, All About
Jazz, August 12, 2011



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