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Music Review: Mark Winkler – Till I Get It Right

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Jazz vocalist Mark Winkler sparkles with personality, honesty, sass, and verve all over Till I Get It Right. Filled with plenty of fresh originals and a big ol’ slice of attitude, this is one set of songs that will have you smiling and grooving.

Winkler is a gifted vocalist, no question about it. His elocution is enticing, his pacing is refreshing, and his range is undeniable. But more than that, Wink is a chic lyricist with distinct skill, wit, and dashes of pure emotion. When many jazz vocalists are pouring through the Great American Songbook in search of old favourites, he takes risk after risk with his own audacious songs.

Till I Get It Right slides into the Winkler catalogue gracefully as a reminder that great tunes are still being written by today’s finest talents and new classics are only a note or two away.

Winkler’s vocals are framed with piano by Jamieson Trotter, bass from Dan Lutz, drums from Steve Hass, guitar from Anthony Wilson, Ron Blake’s trumpet, and Bob Sheppard’s saxophone. The band behind him is inviting, pleasingly pouring through solos and melodies with simple ease. They are never overpowering and make for a nice fit with the vocals.

Winkler is at his best when he ventures out of the norm and plays with different song topics. His bravery is evident as he works through songs like “How To Pack a Suitcase” with Randy Newman style or the Truman Capote-inspired “Sissies.”

Winkler addresses food on another silly number merrily called “How Can That Make You Fat?,” once again revelling in a Newmanesque vibe.

“Cool” is a standout track thanks to Winkler’s fantastic interaction with Cheryl Bentyne. The tune is a fun conversation, with Cheryl and Mark exchanging opinions on one another over a lively, finger-snapping rhythm.

It’s not all cool, swift wit on Till I Get It Right though. “In a Lonely Place” finds Winkler lowering the lights for an intimate performance. His calculated tone, careful presentation, and articulate pronunciation highlight the tune while Blake’s muted trumpet dots the darkness with care. “You kiss me and I was born,” Mark sings.

“You Might As Well Live” closes the record gently. Winkler notes on his blog that this is his personal favourite tune on the CD. It’s a great piece, with the finer points of his voice emerging in the softer moments. There is a real sense of texture and timelessness with this number.

Winkler’s ninth studio record, Till I Get It Right, finds the vocalist and lyricist continuing his musical journey. Humorous and intimate, witty and classy, brave and vulnerable, Mark Winkler is a truly talented performer well worth the attention.

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