Known for his smooth, relaxed, laid-back sense of swing, Mark Winkler is a flexible vocalist/songwriter whose influences (direct or indirect) include Dave Frishberg, Mose Allison, Kenny Rankin, and Michael Franks (among others).
The Los Angeles resident is comfortable in either jazz or pop settings; he has done his share of traditional pop and crossover jazz/smooth jazz work, but he can also handle straight-ahead jazz and bop. Whether a Winkler recording has a jazz improviser’s perspective or more of a pop/crossover perspective has depended on different factors, including the label and the producer.
Some of Winkler’s work has leaned toward the Mose Allison/Dave Frishberg side of things; other times, his approach has been closer to Michael Franks or Kenny Rankin. And either way, Winkler generally maintains his smoothness; he has never been known as a forceful, overly aggressive, or in-your-face type of singer.
Born and raised in the L.A. area, Winkler launched his recorded career in the mid-’80s. After recording some albums for the independent, L.A.-based Chase Music Group (including Color of Love, Ebony Rain, and Hottest Night of the Year), the Southern Californian freelanced for various indie labels in the ’90s (including Countdown and Chartmaker).
Winkler didn’t build a huge catalog in the ’80s or ’90s; when the early 2000s arrived, his catalog added up to about six albums. But he has kept busy doing a variety of other things, which have ranged from writing songs for other vocalists to theatrical projects. Winkler — whose songs have been recorded by Liza Minnelli, Randy Crawford, Dianne Reeves, and others — wrote the off-Broadway musical Naked Boys Singing! (which debuted in New York in 1999 and went on to play in a few others cities as well).
In 2003, the Rhombus label released Mark Winkler Sings Bobby Troup, which found him paying tribute to the songwriter who gave us gems like “Route 66,” “You’re Looking at Me,” and “Baby, Baby All the Time.”
The Laura Nyro Project
Café Pacific 2013
Tracks: And When I Die, Stoned Soul Picnic, California Shoeshine Boys, Time And Love, Sweet Blindness, He´s A Runner, Emmie, Upstairs By A Chinese Lamp, Buy And Sell, Save The Country & Billy´s Blues.
Musicians on the Laura Nyro Project album: Mark Winkler and others.
World Of Mark Winkler – Best And Rare Collections
Cool Sound Records 2001
Tracks: Disc-1: Dancin’ In The Sunshine, Frame By Frame, Night Flight, Scattin’ In The Moonlight, Everybody Cha-Cha, Color Of Love, Tropical Breezes, Time For Love, Sunny, Jazz Life, In A Minor Key, Takin’ Chances, When All The Lights In The Sign Worked, Garden Of Earthly Delights, Relaxin’, Sense Of Humor & Rainbows. Disc-2: Forward Motion, She Likes To Watch, The Hottest Night Of The Year, The Deep End, Parallel Worlds, Beauty And The Beach, Use Me, One By One, Ebony Rain, Chico’s Groove, Jazzy Blue & Soul Nights.
Musicians on the World Of Mark Winkler – Best And Rare Collections album: Mark Winkler, Diane Reeves and others.
Café Pacific 1998
Tracks: Sunny, City Lights, Close, Use Me, The Laws Of Desire, Time For Love, Relaxin´, New York City Blues, I Keep On Loving You, Sense Of Humor & Sweet Jazz In The Night.
Musicians on the City Lights album: Mark Winkler, Roberto Vally, Melvin Davis, Dwayne Smith, Holger Fath, Allen Hinds, Doc Powell, Grant Geissman, Mark McMillen, Dan Siegel, Brian Kilgore, Gerald Albright, Michael Lington, Tony Guerrero, Bambi, Jones, Brandy Jones & Clair Marlo.
Tales From Hollywood
Countdown Records 1995
Tracks: Frame By Frame, So Cool, Too Hip For The Room, When All The Lights In The Sign Worked, Prologue To The Big Nowhere, The Big Nowhere, Another Light, Everybody Cha-Cha, Beguiled, D.J. In L.A., The Sequined Heart, Wonderland & The Long Goodbye.
Musicians on the Tales From Hollywood album: Mark Winkler, Randy Drake, John Robinson, Bob Leatherbarrow, Melvin Davis, Neil Stubenhaus, Kenny Wilde, Wesley Evans, Allan Hinds, Grant Geissman, Alphonse Kenter, Bruce Gaitsch, Rich Ruttenberg, Jai Winding, Freddy Ravel, Joe Pasquale, Les Pierce, Robert Kraft, Lenny Castro, Boney James, Sam Riney, Bob Summers, Michael Rose, Bambi & Brandy, Mark McMillen, Joe Pasquale & Marie Cain.
Color Of Love
Polydor Records 1991
Tracks: Cries And Whispers, Some Other Sunset, Color Of Love, Jeanne Moreau, After Hours, Scattin´In The Moonlight, Rooftops, Son Of The Stardust Lady & No Place Left To Go.
Musicians on the Color Of Love album: Mark Winkler, Bob Leatherbarrow, Wade Short, Alan Hines, Peter White, Grant Geissman, Emil Palame, Vince Di Cola, Lenny Castro, Tom Scott, Sam Riney, Bob McChesney, Clay Jenkins, Denise Stewart, Marie Cain, Chuck Sabatino, Phillip Ingram & Rick Logan.
Hottest Night Of The Year
CMG Records 1989
Tracks: Dancin´In The Sunshine, Satin Doll, Hottest Night Of The Year, Tropical Breezes, Beauty And The Beach, Forward Motion, The Moon Made Me Do It, Takin´ Chances & In A Minor Key.
Musicians on the Hottest Night Of The Year album: Mark Winkler, Tony Morales, Bob Feldman, Bill Lanphier, Grant Geissman, Eddie Arkin, Russ Freeman, David Benoit, Dan Siegel, Freddy Ravel, John Gilutin, Dan Siegel, Emil Palame, Alex Acuna, Sam Riney, Bill Armstrong, Beth Lawrence, Marie Cain, Mary Hylan & Chuck Sabatino.
CMG Records 1987
Tracks: Ebony Rain, Sneaky, Garden Of Earthly Delights, Night Flight, Busted For Buppin´, Lynn, Kelly´s Moods, Night In The City & Rainbows.
Musicians on the Ebony Rain album: Mark Winkler, Tony Morales, Bob Feldman, Russ Freeman, Grant Geissman, Jim Fox, Joe Sample, David Benoit, Eddie Arkin, David Benoit, Bill Purse, Bobbye Hall, Tom Scott, Sam Riney, Doug Norvine, Dianne Reeves, Beth Lawrence, Marie Cain, Lindy White, Angie Jaree & Lorraine Feather.
MIM Records 1981