Mark Winkler, Laura Nyro Project
Jazz singer Mark Winkler has written a new album dedicated to fresh interpretations of the work of his own favorite singer/songwriter Laura Nyro, which is set to be released on April 16.
Winkler's last three CDs have placed high on the Jazz Week charts, and his lyrics have been regularly recorded by over 150 singers (including Dianne Reeves, Cheryl Bentyne, Jackie Ryan and Bob Dorough).
"I love the songs of Laura Nyro", says Winkler. "I am moved by both her music and her words. Her songs create their own worlds, conjuring up cities, cockleshells, exotic lands...and deep passions that touch and inspire me. She mixes Jazz with Broadway and Soul and Folk, and somehow, it all comes out great. I became aware of her brilliance while still a young man living at home with my family. Ever since then, I've had a burning desire to do her music. I decided that, at last, the time is right for me to tackle it...so I set myself the task of finding the "jazz side" of her amazing work. I'm hoping that today's music lovers will discover that her songs are so good that they really deserve a place in the Great American Songbook."
The Laura Nyro Project is not Winkler's first exploration into the musical legacy of another songwriter. His 2003 release Mark Winkler Sings Bobby Troup received a four-star review from Allmusic.com, while Jazzreview.com raved: "Even the artist himself (Bobby Troup) would be proud..." In his last release,Sweet Spot, Winkler also included interpretations of great songs by other legendary tunesmiths, notably George and Ira Gershwin and Leiber and Stoller. (Sweet Spot was named as the #5 Jazz vocal CD of the year by the Jazz Times critic Christopher Loudon in 2011). Still, an attempt to shed new light on an artist with as devoted a fan base as New York-bred Laura Nyro is a brave move for the Los Angeles-based Winkler.
"It has been so interesting-and, at times, frustrating and challenging-to create a Mark Winkler interpretation of Laura Nyro's music", he notes. "The first challenge: Hey, I don't sound anything like her! I am not from the belting, melismatic school-my voice is lighter and more conversational and quite a bit lower. I had to find a way to fit my baritone-ness into her world of soprano side streets and soaring street-corner passions".
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