Mark Winkler - The Rules Don't Apply
Café Pacific Records, 2023
At 74, singer Mark Winkler looks downright boyish on the cover of his 21st recording, The Rules Don’t Apply. Winkler, the de facto Godfather of West Coast jazz vocalists, has long been recognized as a fine lyricist, producer, and spiritual supporter of jazz musicians everywhere, but he is also prolific in the studio. The singer’s previous recording, Late Bloomin’ Jazz Man (Cafe Pacific Records, 2022) found Winkler emerging from behind the curtain of being a “lyricist singer” to a full-blown jazz vocalist. On The Rules Don’t Apply, Winkler shows impressive command of his and other’s material.
Winkler’s new project is expansive, using five different groups and four separate arrangers (all of whom double as pianists on their respective pieces). The stats here are a generous total of 13 songs, 8 with Winkler-penned lyrics and 5 creatively curated “standards.” Of the former, Winkler celebrates each coast with a horn-filled “Sunday In LA,” written with Greg Gordon Smith, and a sunny “In Love In New York” scored by Michele Brourman. Winkler shares the pensive “Lessons I’ve Learned” and exuberant “Here’s To Jazz” with frequent collaborator Jamieson Trotter.
Trotter is also responsible for the most inventive of the standards treatments with Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not To Come” cast as a New Orleans Second Line parade. John Beasley leaves his piano and arrangement mark on Lennon/McCartney's “Got To Get You Into My Life,” Paul Simon's “Something So Right” and the title song, written by Eddie Arkin with lyrics provided by the exquisite Lorraine Feather. An embarrassment of riches is what Winkler has in support.
The Rules Don’t Apply, together with Late Bloomin’ Jazz Man represent career highs for Mark Winkler, who shows no signs of slowing down.