Mark Winkler

Till I Get It Right

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Get it right? How about darn near as perfect as a spirited set of (mostly) original contemporary jazz vocals can be? Blending his always sly, witty lyrics -- which can be enjoyed as poetry even without the sharp, swinging organic grooves -- with crisp, colorful phrasing that's truly the epitome of martini sipping cool, the passionate vocalist brings to his first set of originals in eight years the kind of panache much better known artists can only try to emulate. The world of Winkler is filled with the perfect dual perspective on heartbreak -- he's seriously melancholy on the stark and resigned "In a Lonely Place" and finds humor amidst the bitter on a vocal version of Joshua Redman's "lowercase." Winkler then finds the lighter side of leaving on the retro soul-jazz flavored "How to Pack a Suitcase." He also embraces the hope and optimism before the fall on a stripped down guitar-vocal arrangement of Steve Allen's image-rich "Spring Is Where You Are." Dichotomies abound, as the singer ruminates in two unique ways on the speedy passage of time -- the high carpe diem energy of "Future Street" and a more graceful, gently wistful reflection on the elegant "You Might As Well Live." The two cleverest jaunts are "Sissies," a charming tribute to Truman Capote and the slightly bluesy, laugh out loud search for an answer to the question "How Can That Make You Fat?" Fans of Winkler's previous album, Sings Bobby Troup, will get this one as something of an inside joke, a rejoinder to the similarly quirky "Hungry Man." One of the reasons Winkler's recordings never miss is the depth and soul of his musical Rolodex. He and Cheryl Bentyne have an intimate, fingersnapping deep freeze session on "Cool" and his band includes some of L.A.'s best: producer Barbara Brighton, keyboardist Jamieson Trotter, and guitarist Anthony Wilson (both of whose arrangements make "cool" and "swinging" serious understatements), and saxman Bob Sheppard, who always lends just the right dose of emotional support. Seriously cool, sometimes downright sizzling, and frequently brilliant, Till I Get It Right does.

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