• Jonathan Widran

MARK WINKLER/CHERYL BENTYNE, Eastern Standard Time

OK, seriously now, does music get any more quirky-fun hipster than two of America’s greatest jazz treasures, Mark Winkler and Cheryl Bentyne, intertwining their dashing, urbane vocal magic to explore the cool divine madness of Lou Reed’s daring “Walk on the Wild Side”? Somewhere Andy Warhol is snapping his fingers, diggin’ this and the other fresh discoveries on the delightful duo’s new collection Eastern Standard Time.

It’s a deeply intimate and soulful, thoughtfully rendered continuation of the witty heartfelt and eminently swinging conversations that they started on their critically acclaimed 2013 dual album West Coast Cool – only this time with decidedly (and sometimes deliciously obscure) NYC flavored and originated tunes. They allow themselves two sharp solo spotlights each, the most compelling being Winkler’s bold twist of Wes Montgomery’s “Bumpin’” into a blissful laid back romance, and Bentyne’s playful romp through Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The Gentleman is a Dope.”

The rest of the time, they’re all class and sass as they showcase their storytelling prowess on numbers popularized by Sinatra, Peggy Lee and New York sophisticated Jackie & Roy.

Highlights include pianist Rich Eames’ spicy Afro-Cuban arrangement of the opening track “Devil May Care” and the haunting, classically tinged closing medley of two heartfelt tunes (The Ballad of the Sad Young Men/The Lies of Handsome Men” that should prompt some intense Googling.

As always with Winkler and Bentyne, they’ve got the cream of the crop of L.A. musicians at their side – including Eames, Grant Geissman, Pat Kelley, Gabe Davis, Dave Tull, Bob Sheppard and Kevin Winard. From the elegant photography to the arrangements and performances, Eastern Standard Time is as timeless as contemporary jazz gets.

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