Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler
Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler
Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler
Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler
Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler
Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler
Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler
Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler
Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler
Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler
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Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler

Multi-Grammy 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!

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Management : Rob Lowe and Brinka Rauh

'West Coast Cool' Reviews

'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 support.

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 jubilant fashion.

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 genius.

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 Transfer.

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,' she recalls.

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 other cities.

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 magazine.

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