Mark Winkler: Peeling Back the Onion
MW: The love of music came easily to me. I'm not a good pianist or a fast sight reader, but as a lyricist I'm pretty quick; I've been doing it a long time. I'm also a pretty natural singer, but through teachers and experience I know a hell of a lot more now than I knew in the '80s.
AAJ: Who were your early influences?
MW: . I was listening to Sarah Vaughan, Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand as a kid; then, in my teens, I loved the songs of the Brill Building. I'm eclectic: [Jerry] Leiber/[Mike] Stoller, [Gerry] Goffin/[Carole] King, [Barry] Man/[Cynthia]Weill], and [Burt] Bacharach/[Hal] David were the best. Then, in my late 20s, I discovered Mark Murphy, and was gone.
AAJ: What was your formal musical training like?
MW: I did go to the Dick Grove School of Music, which helped me with theory, and I learned songwriting from Al Kasha and Arthur Hamilton, who wrote "Cry Me A River"; both just wonderful teachers.
AAJ: How old were you when you played in your first paying job?
MW: I was about 22 and playing in a crazy Polish wedding band, with these two loud trumpet player brothers. Nothing's louder than a 20-something trumpet player.
AAJ: What did you have to experience before you got to a point in your musical development, where you knew that you had the talent to do this?
MW: I think I was in my mid-20s; thank heavens I have talent, because I love music so much, I never would have stopped, no matter what.
AAJ: When did you know for sure that this was the life that you wanted to pursue?
MW: Oh, at about the late age of nine. I was at Thrifty's Drug Store in Los Angeles, when I made the decision, and I thought my parents were going to hate it. But, of course, when I told them, they looked at me like, "Of course, what else would you have become in a family like this?"
AAJ: The desert island question. What ten albums would you bring with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
MW: Mark Murphy's Stolen Moments (Muse, 1978) and Once To Every Heart (Verve, 2005); Laura Nyro's Eli and the 13th Confession and New York Tendaberry (Columbia, 1969); Bobby Troup's The Feeling of Jazz (Starline, 1955); Thelma Houston's Sunshower (Dunhill, 1969) songs by Jimmy Webb); Rupert Holmes' Wide Screen (Varèses Vintage, 1995); Al Jarreau's This Time (Warner Bros., 1980); Claire Martin's Make This City Ours (Linn, 1998); Lorraine Feather's New York City Drag (Rhombus, 2001).
All Photos: Scott Mitchell