Though singer/songwriter MARK WINKLER isn’t that well known in the mainstream, he’s a long-time mainstay on the Los Angeles jazz scene with a devoted fan base who pack out his live performances. If you fancy easing your way into 2024 with some mellow,  intriguing  and smooth vocal jazz, may we point you to Mark’s upcoming album, ‘The Rules Don’t Apply’.

The generous 13 tracker is Mr W’s 21st album and betrays both his years of experience and his standing in the LA jazz world.  That status has allowed him to draft in plenty of top names to help him deliver the project. Musicians on the new album include Grammy-winning pianist, composer, and arranger John Beasley, reedman Katisse Buckingham, drummer Clayton Cameron, bassist Gabe Davis, guitarist George Doering, pianist and arranger Rich Eames, grammy-nominated guitarist Grant Geissman, sax player Danny Janklow, bassist Dan Lutz, tuba player Errol Rhoden, drummer Dan Schnell, reedman Bob Sheppard, pianist and arranger Greg Gordon Smith, trumpeter Brian Swartz, pianist and arranger Jamieson Trotter, percussionist Kevin Winard, trombonist Scott Whitfield, and baritone saxophonist Scott Mayo. Under the auspices of producer Barbara Brighton, that band and the singer mix quite a cocktail  – delivering a heady mix of original songs and some familiar covers.

‘The Rules Don’t Apply’ delivers eight original songs and one of the best, ‘Sunday In LA’ gets the album off to a swinging start, setting the tone for much of what is to come. Mark  explains: “I really love L.A. There’s plenty of culture, a diverse landscape and the weather can’t be beat. But the traffic is pretty bad … except on Sundays, which has become my Favorite day to play in L.A.” The brassy ‘The Joy Of Singing’ is another personal original. The singer’s team tell us that Winkler and his family would gather around the piano and sing songs together on Friday nights. The song is an homage to the seductive joy of singing!

However, it’s the eclectic choice of covers that brings the intrigue to this long player. You can go from the Beatles’ sassy ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ to Paul Simon’s gentle ‘Something So Right’ and onto Three Dog Night/Randy Newman’s ‘Mama Told Me Not Come’ in the drop of a hat! All three are  unique, original interpretation. Maybe the most telling cover, though, is a version of  Donald Fagen’s ‘I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World).’ Mark  has an interesting connection to Fagen. He actually came very close to being the lead singer for Steely Dan when they were just starting out. Everyone in the band wanted him, but Fagen wanted to be the band’s singer, and the rest is history; and Mark Winkler took his own, different path and has forged a successful career with his unique and often humorous  take on vocal jazz.

Mark Winkler’s THE RULES DON’T APPLY will be released on Café Pacific Records and available at Amazon and all streaming platforms from  January 12, 2024.