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MARK WINKLER Releases "The Rules Don't Apply"

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    Posted: 04 Dec 2023 at 9:05am
 

 

 

SINGER/SONGWRITER MARK WINKLER RELEASES 21st ALBUM

THE RULES DON’T APPLY

AVAILABLE JANUARY 12, 2024 on CAFÉ PACIFIC RECORDS

 

 

 

 

Vocalist and songwriter MARK WINKLER is a mainstay on the Los Angeles jazz scene with a devoted fan base who packs his live performances. A prolific recording artist, Winkler has produced 20 previous albums, nearly one a year for the past several years. Downbeat Magazine said in their 4-star review of his 2022 release, Late Bloomin’ Jazzman, “Mark Winkler is an unsung hero of West Coast jazz. The singer and lyricist has been quietly churning out idiosyncratic hipster songs with a slightly retro feel for years. His 20th album, Late Bloomin’ Jazzman, may just be his best.” Winkler is now releasing his 21st album, THE RULES DON’T APPLY, his most ambitious project yet.

 

Winkler always works with some of the best musicians in town, like on his 2021 release, Old Friends, a collaboration with pianist David Benoit, or Eastern Standard Time, on which he shared the microphone with The Manhattan Transfer’s soprano Cheryl Bentyne. His albums usually feature a standard jazz trio with a couple of horns. For THE RULES DON’T APPLY, he brought on board 16 top musicians who play in various combinations. The musicians include Grammy-winning pianist, composer, and arranger JOHN BEASLEY, reedman KATISSE BUCKINGHAM, drummer CLAYTON CAMERON, bassist GABE DAVIS, guitarist GEORGE DOERING, pianist and arranger RICH EAMES, Grammy-nominated guitarist GRANT GEISSMAN, sax player DANNY JANKLOW, bassist DAN LUTZ, tuba player ERROL RHODEN, drummer DAN SCHNELL, reedman BOB SHEPPARD, pianist and arranger GREG GORDON SMITH, trumpeter BRIAN SWARTZ, pianist and arranger JAMIESON TROTTER, percussionist KEVIN WINARD, trombonist SCOTT WHITFIELD, and baritone saxophonist SCOTT MAYO. The album was produced by BARBARA BRIGHTON, who also produced eight of Winkler’s previous albums.

 

Winkler is a prolific lyricist whose songs have been recorded or performed by a Who’s Who of well-known singers, including Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee 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. He is also a producer who has worked on a number of CDs for other vocal artists.

 

As a song stylist, Winkler’s range is wide and deep. He can swing like a horn player, touch hearts with a sensitive ballad, and deliver a humorous song with a sly wink. He captures all of these moods on THE RULES DON’T APPLY. Winkler wrote lyrics for eight of the original songs on the album. He also included five of his favorite tunes written by Paul Simon, Lennon and McCartney, Eddie Arkin and Lorraine Feather, Donald Fagen, and Randy Newman. In order to capture a variety of styles, he also worked with four different arrangers, John Beasley, Jamieson Trotter, Greg Gordon Smith and Rich Eames, his main accompanist.

 

Besides his great singing chops and engaging lyrics, Winkler’s appeal, especially to live audiences, is his authenticity. At this point in his long career, he was not going to change that. He has been feeling that many older jazz artists are not perhaps getting the attention they deserve and wanted to represent that on this album.

 

Winkler says, “I’m a 74-year-old Jewish gay man, and I really feel my creative powers have not diminished in the slightest. When I listen to the radio or see Spotify playlists, the younger artists are rightly getting the attention they deserve, but I don’t think that attention should be at the expense of older artists who are still doing great work.”

 

A Los Angeles native, Winkler opens the album with “Sunday in L.A.,” composed and arranged by Greg Gordon Smith. Winkler says, “I really love L.A. There’s plenty of culture, a diverse landscape and the weather can’t be beat. But the traffic is pretty bad … except on Sundays, which has become my favorite day to play in L.A.”

Other Winkler originals include “The Joy of Singing,” composed by Winkler, Nic Chamberlain and Jameison Trotter. Growing up, Winkler and his family would gather around the piano and sing songs together on Friday nights. The song is an homage to the seductive joy of singing and to his late brother Bob. “In Love in New York” is an easy swing tune composed by Michele Brourman. The urbane performance of the song “Witchcraft,” sung by Cy Coleman on the TV show Playboy After Dark, stayed with Winkler all these years and was the inspiration for this song.

 

The song “Just Around the Corner” is Winkler’s statement about moving the music into the next era. As his lyrics say, “Why do we have to do everything like it’s been done? / Shakin’ up nice and predictable’s half of the fun. / I don’t dig déjà vu, make it new—reach for the stars. / And if not the stars / Maybe the sun.” Winkler honors the renowned Capitol Records Studio with a small, big band take on his song “If These Walls Could Talk (They’d Sing) - “The room is dark, but in the light / Nat Cole’s Steinway’s on my right / A microphone, a swivel chair / Sinatra used to sing from there.”

 

With Bob Sheppard’s cool clarinet playing, “Jazz Swings” is a bluesy homage to the art form. Winkler celebrates the wisdom that comes from age and experience on his moody song “Lessons I’ve Learned.” Winkler closes the album with “Here’s to Jazz,” his hip love song to jazz, composed by Jamiesson Trotter.

 

Winkler covers Donald Fagen’s hopeful tune “I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World).” He has an interesting connection to Fagen. Winkler actually came a hair’s breadth away from being the lead singer for Steely Dan when they were just starting out. Everyone in the band wanted him, but Fagen wanted to be the band’s singer, and the rest is history. Winkler loves the Beatles and even teaches their lyrics in his classes. John Beasley arranged “Got to Get You into My Life” as a jazz tune. The Lennon and McCartney song is one of Winkler’s favorites. Winkler approaches a song like an actor approaches a script. He visualizes himself as a character singing the song, which is why he never before sang Paul Simon’s “Something So Right,” because he never saw himself as the protagonist of the song. However, working with his producer Barbara Brighton, he found a way of approaching the character that resonated with him. As a fellow singer/songwriter, Winkler feels a lot of connection to Randy Newman and decided to do a raucous, New Orleans-inspired version of Newman’s “Mama Told Me No to Come,” featuring Errol Rhoden on tuba.

 

Mark Winkler’s music is always fun with a hipness that would not be out of place in a smoky jazz club in the 1950s, yet still keeping a contemporary edge. With its various jazz styles and different band configurations, THE RULES DON’T APPLY takes Winkler’s hipness to a whole new level.

 

#  #  #

 

THE RULES DON’T APPLY will be released on Café Pacific Records and available at Amazon and all streaming platforms on January 12, 2024.

 

Online:

Markwinklermusic.com

facebook.com/mark.winkler.10

 



Edited by snobb - 04 Dec 2023 at 9:05am
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