Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mark Winkler & Cheryl Bentyne West Coast Cool Summit 2013

Multi-talented Mark Winkler and Cheryl Bentyne team up for a delightfully engaging look back at the West Coast Cool sound of the 1950's
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz

One of the few male / female duets in vocal jazz that finds both participants working on equal footing. Grammy winner Cheryl Bentyne turns in her finest effort in a decade and Mark Winkler continues to wow audiences and critics alike with his spot on vocal performances which seem to grow by leaps and bounds with each subsequent release. Rich Eames handles the majority of the arrangements including "Let's Get Lost" and a masterful medley in "Route 66 / Alright, Okay, You Win / Straighten Up And Fly Right." Bentyne and Winkler have that rare chemistry that allows for the connectivity with an audience to be believable and delightfully entertaining. The danger in this type of release is predictability and we find it here in spades, but in a good way. The worst thing that could happen to tunes such as "This Could Be The Start Of Something Big" and "Lemon Twist" would be attempting to tweak these tunes too much. Never mess with a good melody. The intangibles pushing this release over the top and include appearances by saxophone ace Bob Sheppard along with arrangements from all star pianist Tamir Hendelman on the Bobby Troup tune "Hungry Man."

Problems? The cover art is god awful and while to some this is meaningless in the age of the digital download, I ask you to compare the cover art above to the publicity photo below and decide for yourself. Packaging of any release means revenue.
There are one or two tunes that may seem slightly out of place but let's call that eclectic and not make a big thing of it.

All in all this is a deliciously fun romp through an often overlooked period in jazz deserving of far more attention than it receives. Solid, entertaining and creative enough to appeal to a wide audience there is no doubt West Coast Cool is a winner.

4 Stars!

Tracks: Take 5 / Drinks On The Patio; An Occasional Man; Let's Get Lost; Talk Of The Town / Girl Talk; West Coast Cool; Something Cool; Route 66 / Alright, Okay, You Win / Straighten Up And Fly Right; Senor Blues; Lemon Twist; This Could Be The Start Of Something Big; Hungry Man; All About Ronnie / Trouble Is A Man; In A Lonely Place; BONUS - Cool: live.

Personnel: Piano: Rich Eames; Bass: Tim Emmons; Drums: Dave Tull; Saxophones / Flute: Bob Sheppard; Nolan Shaheed: trumpet (3); Anthony Wilson: Guitar: (9); Joe Bagg: Hammond B3 (9); Mark Ferber: Drums (9); Jon Mayer: Piano (11); Kevin Axt: Bass; Roy McCurdy: Drums; Eli Brueggeman: Piano; George Koeller: Bass; Mark Kelso: Drums.