Award winning vocalist Cheryl Bentyne (member of The Manhattan
Transfer) meets award-winning, critically acclaimed jazz
vocalist-lyricist Mark Winkler to form a dynamic duo, intent
on proving how the West Coast jazz scene of the '50s still
remains very much revelent, alive, and - above all - cool.
Together and separately they perform songs by Dave Brubeck,
Chet Baker, Julie London and Bobby Troup (to name a few).
Cheryl and Mark have enlisted Al Gomes and A. Michelle of
Big Noise to oversee part of the publicity and promotion
campaign for their acclaimed CD 'West Coast Cool.' Enjoy!
Buy CD now at iTunes
Buy CD now at Amazon
Click here to enter Cheryl's Official Website:
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Management : Rob Lowe and Brinka Rauh
'West Coast Cool'
'West Coast Cool is artistry that is beyond words.
Wow. Just wow.'
- C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz
'This is an utterly fantastic jazz vocal date that
raises the bar so high, critics will be comparing dates
50 years from now to this one. Killer stuff.'
- Chris Spector, Midwest Record
'Cheryl Bentyne & Mark Winkler
make the hippest guy-gal vocal duo since Jackie and Roy.'
- Joe Lange, Jersey Jazz
'The smooth and vibrant vocals of Winkler and Bentyne, who together take that oft-used phrase "dynamic duo" to a much higher level.'
- Ed Blanco, All About Jazz
'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.'
- Brent Black, Critical Jazz
'Sharper than a shark skin suit
lapel, and swinging harder than a hammer thrower, singers
Cheryl (The Manhattan Transfer) Bentyne and Mark Winkler
deliver a red-hot tribute to West Coast Cool.'
- George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly
'It is their shared efforts
- particularly the title track, with Winkler's hipster-list
lyric married to Neal Hefti's 'Darlin' that satisfy most,
bottling the effervescence of their simpatico rapport.'
- Chris Loudon, Jazz Times
The female-/male vocal duo is a common element in
all forms of music; but in jazz, it's something of a rarity.
The art of jazz vocalizing is such a personal statement
that combining forces often demands a certain compromise
that undermines that expression. It takes a rare combination
of mutual artistic respect and conceptual freedom to achieve
that proper level of expressiveness and cohesion. Cheryl
Bentyne and Mark Winkler have clearly conquered
that challenge with their outstanding new CD, 'West
Coast Cool' on Summit Records.
The much acclaimed vocalist-lyricist
Winkler and the multi-Grammy winning Manhattan Transfer
member Bentyne first began to collaborate in 2010. This
CD is the music-only version of their live show of the same
name. They are perfectly attuned to each other, blending
their voices in a manner that is totally complementary in
tone, rhythm and emotional weight. The vocalizing is brilliantly
arranged - sometimes call and response, sometimes in harmonic
unison, sometimes interwoven in sparkling patterns. They
thrust and parry, punctuating, emphasizing, enhancing and
occasionally even completing an idea launched by the other.
If this were dance, it could be a Jerome Robbins piece,
incorporating side-by-side patterns, melding into a most
alluring pas de deux. Their vocal styles are ideally complementary.
Mark's dulcet tones of liquid velvet are set in a masterful
rhythmic style, with a teasing, tantalizing sense of syncopation.
Cherylís rich and vibrant voice effortlessly moves from
sinuous breathiness to explosively dynamic in an eyeblink.
The ensemble that is present
on eleven of the fourteen tracks - pianist Rick Eames (who
also arranged ten of the pieces), bassist Tim Emmons, drummer
Dave Tull and Bob Sheppard on saxophones and flute - offer
exemplary support, thoroughly maintaining the fine balance
of vivid jazz expression within a context of totally sympathetic
The repertoire - 18 songs on
14 tracks - is a wonderful blend of compositions. It's also
deftly programmed, with a nice balance of solo pieces and
duets. There are also three medleys that are so beautifully
integrated that the listener may not even realize that a
new song has been introduced.
One of these medleys opens the
album, ideally setting the tone for the album with Paul
Desmond's 'Take 5' (with Iola Brubeck's lyrics) crossed
with a Winkler-Eames original 'Drinks on the Patio.' With
a rubato intro featuring a Coltrane-esque Sheppard on tenor
leading into the familiar piano vamp, the duet sparkles,
punching out the piece, trading, weaving and scatting in
Talk of the Town (Symes, Newburg
and Livingston) is paired with the Neal Hefti-Bobby Troup
classic 'Girl Talk.' On the former Cheryl displays her lovely
ballad stylings and Mark gives the latter a deeply grooved
bluesy feel marked by inventive slow drag drums from Tull
- all melding seamlessly into a concluding duet. A triple-header
closes out the medleys with both vocalists swirling together
like jitterbug dancers on the relentlessly swinging medley
of Troup's 'Route 66.' 'Alright, Okay, You Win (Watts &
Wychs),' and the Nat Cole-Irving Mills classic 'Straighten
Up and Fly Right,' all stoked by Sheppard's punctuation
and gutty solo.
Two Bobby Troup songs are delivered
in solo excursions by Winkler (both featuring different
rhythm sections). 'Lemon Twist,' a smoky organ combo groover
features guitarist Anthony Wilson (who also arranged and
solos), Joe Bagg on the B3 and drummer Mark Ferber, with
Winkler evoking Eddie Jefferson and King Pleasure. 'Hungry
Man' (arranged by Tamir Handelman) is a most expressive
rendition, retaining the appropriate whimsy and swinging
mightily with wailing Sheppard, a driving piano solo by
Jon Mayer, sprightly walking bass by Kevin Axt and the emphatic
drumming of Cannonball Adderley-veteran Roy McCurdy.
There are two more solo features
for Winkler. Frank Loesser and Jimmy McHugh's 'Let's Get
Lost' is jaunty and exuberantly bouncy, brightly demonstrating
Mark's rhythmic mastery. Nolan Shaheed's trumpet adds delicious
punctuation and an outstanding solo. Mark wrote the lyrics
to Marilyn Harris' exquisite ballad 'In a Lonely Place.'
The rich warmth of his beautiful voice is highly compelling
and touching, displaying the full scope of his balladic
Cheryl gets the solo spotlight
on three tracks. On 'An Occasional Man' (Martin & Blaine)
she glides smoothly on its vertical structure, teasing with
deliciously bent notes and interweaving nicely with Sheppard's
tenor. On Billy Barnes' 'Something Cool,' she offers homage
to one of her personal heroes, the great June Christy. In
rubato throughout, Cheryl offers a moody, dramatic and heart-wrenching
version that displays her full musical and emotive range
while Sheppard's soprano sax further adds to the tender
mood. Joe Greene's 'All About Ronnie' begins as a filigreed
ballad until a slow Afro-Cuban style unison vamp by Eames
and Emmons eases it into a bolero style - a great showcase
for Cheryl's balladry. Another angle on the Latin groove
takes a hard bop flavor with Horace Silver's 'Senor Blues.'
Built on a powerful, deeply wooded ostinato bass groove,
Cheryl shows off her strong improvisational skills, swinging
mightily and exchanging ideas with Sheppard's flute, closing
with a wicked unison statement.
Hard swinging is the key on
Steve Allen's signature song 'This Could Be the Start of
Something Big' (another Hendelman arrangement). A joyous
up-tempo romp with an explosive piano solo and strutting
bass, both vocalists tear it up in rocking jump mode. A
totally different - but no less swinging - style is set
in the title track, Neal Hefti's West Coast Cool (with lyrics
by Winkler). Also known in its instrumental form as 'Lil'
Darlin' - an immensely popular piece by Count Basieís Orchestra
- this features a deep bluesy feel built on a slow walking
bass line that is so deliberate it swaggers.
The album closes with a taste
of the live show, another Harris/Winkler item, 'Cool.' Arranged
by Jamieson Trotter, and featuring Eli Brueggman, George
Koller and Mark Kelso on piano, bass and drums, this energetic,
stylish, deeply syncopated piece offers a palpable sense
of the live performance with its immediacy and flair. A
most fitting conclusion to a remarkable album.
When Cheryl Bentyne joined The
Manhattan Transfer in 1979, it was at that point
that the group began to attain its status as one of most
successful harmony group of all-time, garnering them 10
Grammy Awards since 1980. Each part of the vocal quartet
came together with an unmistakable chemistry that not only
nurtured the group as a whole, but let the individual contributions
of each partner come through. Cheryl's are obvious: from
her memorable (Grammy nominated) solo in 'Meet Benny Bailey'
to her portrayal of Lucy in the 'Blee Blop Blues' video
to her exquisite voicing of Django Reinhardt's guitar solo
on 'Clouds' (adapted from Nuages) on 'Swing' to Miles Davis'
solo on 'Tutu,' her talents are much of what is The Manhattan
Born on January 17, 1954, Cheryl
was raised in a musical family. Her father was a swing musician,
known as 'The Benny Goodman of the Northwest' and her mother
was a part-time singer - so it was only natural that Cheryl
would be interested in music. Her studies included theatre,
classical piano - which she studied for seven years - and
of course, vocals. She began singing at age 14 with her
father's Dixieland swing band at the Elks Club.
Upon graduation from high school,
Cheryl moved to nearby Seattle and joined The New Deal Rhythm
Band. She was a part of the group for four years, delighting
audiences wherever she went. They combined comedy and improvisation
with theatrical swing numbers, which was very similar to
the early days of The Manhattan Transfer. They were a Seattle
sensation and toured along the West Coast. They were performing
at a private party on a ferry when Cheryl caught the attention
of a promoter and talent agent who were attending the party.
Signed on the spot, Cheryl drove to Los Angeles a week later.
Before long, she was getting regular bookings. 'I did two
years of hoot nights at The Troubadour and The Bla Bla Cafe.
I was having so much fun I didn't realize I was paying dues,'
In June of 1979, she was coming
out of The Baked Potato, a small jazz club in LA, when her
manager asked her if she would like to audition for a spot
in The Manhattan Transfer. She prepared several of the group's
most popular songs and the next day, she was the new soprano
in the group. Read More...
Mark Winkler is a platinum award-winning
singer-lyricist who has had over 200 of his songs recorded
and/or sung by such artists as Dianne Reeves, Randy Crawford,
Liza Minnelli, Bob Dorough, Jackie Ryan, Dee Dee Bridgewater
and Britain's Claire Martin.
Summit Records has released
his 12th CD 'West Coast Cool' with Cheryl Bentyne which
celebrates the great music of the '50s on the West Coast.
Earlier the same year, his 11th CD 'The Laura Nyro Project'
featuring the works of the '60s and '70s songwriting icon
was released, which received great reviews and reached the
top 25 on the Jazz Week Charts. This follows up his 2011
CD of mostly original Winkler lyrics, 'Sweet Spot' which
was one of the top Top 5 Vocal Jazz CDs in Jazz Times magazine.
He has also been featured in two national magazines - Jazz
Times and Cabaret Scenes (where he was the cover boy) and
did an interview and concert on Voice of America that was
broadcast to over 60 countries.
As a lyricist he has written lyrics for songs by Wayne Shorter, Duke Pearson, Joe Sample, David Benoit and Dexter Gordon.
He has performed in clubs in
Los Angeles, in New York at the Blue Note, the Laurie Beechman,
Birdland and the Iridium, and has sung in London, Tokyo
and Australia. As part of West Coast Cool with Cheryl Bentyne,
he has performed at the Syracuse Jazz Festival and in Tuscon,
Arizona, Toronto, Canada and Madison, Wisconsin, among many
He also wrote songs for the
second longest-running musical in Off- Broadway history
'Naked Boys Singing!' and has two other shows 'Bark!' and
'Too Old for the Chorus' touring the country.
As an educator, Mark teaches
lyric writing 'Crafting Great Lyrics: A Songwriters Workshop'
at UCLA extension and he writes columns for Music Connection
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