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Mark Winkler: The Company I Keep (Café Pacific)

Vocalist taps talents of gifted friends and colleagues in aftermath of loss of his partner

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Mark Winkler: "The Company I Keep"
Mark Winkler: “The Company I Keep”

How do you keep the music playing? So wondered Mark Winkler after the death of Richard Del Belso, his partner and husband of 35 years. Winkler’s solution: count on the support of musical friends. Result: his most richly accomplished album to date.

Several of the participating pals are fellow singers. To open, he teams with Jackie Ryan on Donald Fagen’s “Walk Between the Raindrops,” a delightful reminder of Winkler’s inherent coolness. Up next is Cheryl Bentyne, for a smoothly satisfying take on Prince’s “Strollin’.” Steve Tyrell proves an ideal studio mate on the deliciously tart “But It Still Ain’t So,” a new Winkler co-composition; Sara Gazarek enriches another original, the cuddly “Rainproof”; and Claire Martin is onboard for a magnificent “Stolen Moments,” Mark Murphy’s lyric slightly twisted to honor Murphy himself.

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