If you know your vocal jazz music, you recognized Cheryl Bentyne's name right off the bat, one of four singers in the great Manhattan Transfer, a group that sits long, soothingly 'n swingin' in the minds of aesthetes near and far, but if you're not familiar with this Mark Winkler cat…well, I'm about to cure that. Not only is his most current solo release, apart from this gig, a way the hell long overdue tribute to Laura Nyro (finally! someone recognized the need!), but he also was involved in the Naked Boys Singing! off-Broadway smash that featured, now get this, an all-nude all-male cast (yow!!) and Takes from Hollywood, which has been described as "noir…sort of like Humphrey Bogart meets Michael Franks at Quentin Tarantino's house", and those are just two among eight CDs in his back catalogue. Past sit-ins to those efforts have included Joe Sample, Dianne Reeves, Tom Scott, and others, so it's not difficult to imagine how he snagged a top-drawer talent like Bentyne.
West Coast Cool is in line with Winkler's theatrical efforts, indeed a medley mash-up revue of beloved jazz tunes from composers Bobby Troup, Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker, Horace Silver, Steve Allen, and many others presented in a breezy, dancingly melodious, conversational call and response fashion with plenty of instrumental accompaniment from a tight but loose quartet: Rich Eames (piano), Tim Emmons (bass), Dave Tull (drums), and Bob Sheppard (saxes, flute). Bentyne's in top form (when wasn't she ever, hm?) and Winkler is like a stylin' cat akin to Robert Kraft, a night prowler who just dropped in to see what was what, found himself hypnotized by Cheryl's enchanting voice, decided to zwee-bop and skoobly-ooo, then stayed the night, closing down the club after hours.
Man, after listening to this CD, I hafta go catch me some Dick van Dyke Show, Dobie Gillis, Route 66, and, hell, even I Spy and Get Smart! 'cause I'm now feeling nostalgic as hell for times past. This release is that kind of gig, sliding from the torchy All about Ronnie to the humorous Louis Prima-esque Hungry Man to the chart pleasing Girl Talk and all points in between. It speaks to and of an era that later rock and rolling generations too quickly sidled by but which was FAR subtler and more clever than many understood at first blush. That's why we see this ongoing revival of swing and post-bop. That's why the modes refuse to die. And that's why discs like this are West Coast Cooler than hell.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles