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Mark Winkler is a Late Bloomin Jazz Man

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    Posted: 29 Mar 2022 at 10:17pm

LATE BLOOMIN’ JAZZMANthe newest album by vocalist and songwriter MARK WINKLER, is an homage to growing older and all the blessings and drawbacks that come with it. The album is Winkler’s 20th CD as a leader. Each of his previous projects has received stellar reviews and consistently topped the jazz charts. Rex Reed has said, “Mark Winkler is a musical marvel and a true original! At last, a writer who sings and a singer who swings!” With an abundance of fans on the West and East coasts, it is easy for Winkler to fill a house wherever he performs.
Winkler is a prolific lyricist whose songs have been recorded or performed by a Who’s Who of well-known singers, including Dianne Reeves, DeeDee Bridgewater, Steve Tyrell, Claire Martin, Jackie Ryan, Randy Crawford, Cheryl Bentyne, Kenny Rankin, Jane Monheit, and Ben Vereen, among others. Liza Minnelli titled her CD Tropical Nights after one of Winkler’s songs. The roster of Winkler’s collaborators is equally impressive and includes David Benoit, Wayne Shorter, Joe Sample, Dexter Gordon, Dianne Reeves, Wes Montgomery, and Lorraine Feather.
In the last few years Winkler has mostly focused on standards, the East Coast Jazz Scene in the 50s and 60sand the songs of Bobby Troup. On LATE BLOOMIN’ JAZZMAN, Winkler wrote lyrics to eight of the 12 tunes.
Winkler brought into the studio some of the top players in Southern California, including DAVID BENOIT, JAMIESON TROTTER, RICH EAMES and JON MAYER on piano, JOHN CLAYTON and GABE DAVIS on bass, CHRISTIAN EUMAN on drums, GRANT GEISSMAN on guitar, BOB SHEPPARD on sax, BRIAN SWARTZ and NOLAN SHAHEED on trumpet, and KEVIN WINARD on percussion. This is also the eighth album he has worked on with BARBARA BRIGHTON as producer.
Winkler covers a lot of personal topics on LATE BLOOMIN’ JAZZMAN. He writes about his love of George Gershwin, film noir, and the songs of Rio. He also writes about losing his husband, finding love again, and about a close friend ravished by Alzheimer’s disease.
The first song on the album with Winkler’s original lyrics is “When All the Lights in the Sign Worked.” The tune is his tribute to film noir and features a moody arrangement by Jamieson Trotter with solos by Brian Swartz on trumpet and Bob Sheppard on sax. The song is so apropos for the genre that it almost sounds like it was recorded in black and white.
Composed and arranged by Eli Brueggemann, “Late Bloomin’ Jazzman” is about America’s fascination with younger artists while forgetting about the great masters. Winkler lost his husband five years ago to cancer. He wrote “In Another Way” about his loss and then finding love again.
Winkler actually wrote some of the lyrics to “Bossa Nova Days” in a dream. Winkler says, “I’ve always loved Bossa Nova, and I imagined taking a time machine and going back to Rio.” Pianist and composer Jon Mayer composed “Before You Leave” and plays on this track. Winkler says, “I love Jon Mayer. He writes such beautiful melodies. This composition sounds like a classic from the Great American Songbook.”
“Old Enough” is about aging. Winkler explains, “Most of the Great American Songbook was composed by young men who wrote about falling in love and taking chances. I wrote about the wisdom that comes with aging. I was so stupid in my twenties … but weren’t we all? Every word of this song is true.”
“Marlena’s Memories” is about a dear friend who has had Alzheimer’s disease for about 11 years. “I’m her Power of Attorney,” says Winkler, “and it’s very sad yet somehow beautiful participating in her journey. I know her family history well, and I got to put what I knew in the song. Once again, this a song only a more mature person could have written.” On “If Gershwin Had Lived,” Winkler ponders what George Gershwin would have accomplished had he lived much longer.
Winkler also includes four covers on the album. He admires fellow lyricist Lorraine Feather and sings her sweet love song “I Always Had a Thing for You.” The song features beautiful playing by David Benoit and Grant Geissman. While listening to the radio, Winkler heard a version of “It Ain’t Necessarily So” performed by John Clayton and asked him to write an arrangement for the album. “Don’t Be Blue” is a Michael Franks song and features Trotter playing the Hammond B3. Winkler got inspired hearing Bob Dorough’s version of “Old Devil Moon” and decided to do his own version with a bebop spin.
Although Winkler is a popular performer and recording artist, he is also a very successful songwriter, and LATE BLOOMIN’ JAZZMAN is a wonderful showcase to highlight bothTo paraphrase his lyrics in “Late Bloomin’ Jazzman,” his “finest flower may finally be here.”
About Mark Winkler
Mark Winkler is an award-winning singer, lyricist, and producer. Born and raised in Southern California, music is almost in his DNA. Everyone in his family sang. His mother was a big band singer, and his aunt also sang with a band. He and his brothers all grew up harmonizing around the piano with his mother at the keyboard.

He gained international recognition 40 years ago with the release of his first album, Jazz Life. The album did particularly well in Japan and is still played on Japanese radio. He has played in clubs in Los Angeles, in New York at the Blue Note and Birdland, and he has sung in London, Tokyo and Australia. As part of West Coast Cool with Cheryl Bentyne he has performed at the Syracuse Jazz Festival and in Tucson, Toronto and Madison, among many other cities. As an educator, Winkler teaches a lyric writing course called “Crafting Great Lyrics: A Songwriters Workshop” at UCLA extension and at the Los Angeles School of Songwriting.  
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LATE BLOOMIN’ JAZZMAN (Café Pacific Records) will be available everywhere on April 8, 2022.

WATCH: "Ain't Necessarily So" (arr. John Clayton)
David Benoit, piano; Grant Geissman, guitar; John Clayton, bass; Christian Euman, drums

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