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May 2009

Mark Winkler
Till I Get It Right
Freeham

If Mark Murphy is the reigning king of vocal hipsterism, then Mark Winkler ranks directly behind Kurt Elling among heirs apparent. Though the title of Winkler’s ninth album echoes his longstanding predilection for self-effacement, better to consider it ironic.

As the jazz cognoscenti are well aware, Winkler has been getting it right for years. As a singer, he mirrors Murphy’s arch sophistication while suggesting an amalgam of Curtis Stigers’ blithe ingenuousness and Matt Dennis’ breezy bonhomie. As a lyricist, he is as consummate a traveler in the world of Dave Frishberg drollness as he is in the land of Cole Porter urbanity.

This time around, Winkler’s lyrical skills span 10 tunes (augmented by the sparse, budding beauty of Steve Allen’s “Spring Is Where You Are” and witty sagacity of Ivan Lins’ “Evolution”) of dexterous ingenuity. He shapes clever accolades to personal heroes Truman Capote (“Sissies”) and Barbra Streisand (“In the Moment”), swaps hepcat accolades with Cheryl Bentyne on “Cool,” serves up the deliciously Frishberg-ian “How Can That Make You Fat?” and proves a master of the sweet adieu with “How to Pack a Suitcase.”

But it is on a pair of ballads that Winkler shines brightest, seeking silver linings in “You Might As Well Live” and, inspired by a classic slice of Humphrey Bogart film noir, fog-bound in the aftermath of a doomed romance in “In a Lonely Place.

Originally published in May 2009
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