Mark Winkler, Laura Nyro Project
The task required collaboration with inspired musicians. Winkler tapped the talents of arranger and SNL Music Director Eli Brueggemann ("simply one of the best musicians I have ever worked with") to finesse nearly half of the CD's 11 tracks. "Eli understood Laura's idiosyncrasies and found parallels for them in the world of Jazz and the Great American Songbook", explains Winkler. "One of my favorite arrangements of his is "Time And Love." When I told him I wanted to turn this mid-tempo shuffle into a ballad, the remarkable musical reference book in his head led him to turn for inspiration to Ahmad Jamal's arrangement of "Moonlight In Vermont," transcending genres and Decades in a musical micro-second."
Many other A-list musicians helped Winkler bring his ideas to fruition...the album is chock full of fine work by the likes of Eric Reed ( who supplied his own arrangement and piano for "Billie's Blues" and then plays killer stride on Winkler's offbeat take on Laura's 60s anti-war anthem "Save The Country"), Anthony Wilson ( who cools it down with his solo on "Emmie"), and the sons of the original Mills Brothers ( who apply their inimitable style to backgrounds on a New Orleans-infused version of "Sweet Blindness"). Saxophonist Bob Sheppard, guitarists Pat Kelly and Larry Koonse and bassist Dan Lutz also made major contributions to this musical adventure.
Prior to his work on The Laura Nyro Project, Winkler had released 11 CDs in the US, developing a substantial fan base of his own. The 2011 release, Sweet Spot, led to a feature article on Winkler's work in Jazz Times, which noted that he is "as both vocalist and lyricist, a master weaver of tunes that seem to demand gin, vermouth, a T-Bird convertible and the occasional femme fatale". In that same profile, Winkler's Sometime singing partner Cheryl Bentyne (of Manhattan Transfer) says "He's a consummate writer, a wonderful interpreter of these incredible songs, and he does it all with wit, charm and warmth". Winkler and Bentyne have been touring around the country in a jazz show paying homage to the creators of the West Coast Cool sound, a recording of which will be released in the fall of 2013.
Visit www.MarkwinklerMusic.com for more information.
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