Sweet Spot
Review by Willard Manus

Mark Winkler, heir to the Mark Murphy/Bobby Troop line of jazz vocalists, has a new CD, SWEET SPOT, that highlights his many recent accomplishments. The West Coast-based Winkler not only sings and writes songs but is the co-author of two successful musicals, Naked Boys Singing and Play It Cool.

Two of the twelve tracks on SWEET SPOT are taken from those shows: On Broadway and Jazz Is a Special Taste. On the former, Winkler, backed up by a big band, delivers a swinging tribute to the Big Apple; on the latter, he explains in warm, moving fashion just what he loves about jazz and the musicians who play it.

Winkler shows that he's capable of singing in just about every jazz genre there is, from bossa nova (Catch Me If You Can) to torch song (This Kind of Loving) to downhome blues (Sweet Spot, sharing the spotlight with a funky-sounding Barbara Morrison).

In addition to Morrison, Winkler has surrounded himself with some topnotch collaborators: pianist Billy Childs, sax player Bon Sheppard, pianist Eli Bruegemann, guitarists Grant Geissman and Anthony Wilson--and that's just for starters.

SWEET SPOT showcases Winkler at the top of his game. The witty songwriter and oh-so-smooth vocalist comes off well on this Cafe Pacific Records release (markwinklermusic.com)