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Fridays are the day when we at the McElrath Cabaret Blog present blog posts in our Cabaret Through Time series. We present historical cabaret singers, entertainers, venues, writers, and musicians, and often include cabaret videos. We hope that you find it informative!
Irene Kral–Jazz Vocalist With A Beautiful Voice, Superb Acting
Irene Kral, who was the younger sister of singer and pianist Roy Kral of Jackie and Roy fame, was alive from 1932 to 1978, and was an amazing jazz vocalist that is perhaps not as well known as some of the others in jazz, but should be considered one of the giants. I found information about Ms. Kral on her official website, which includes a biography and photos. You will also find a brief entry on Wikipedia. There is another biography for Irene Kral at AllMusic, as well as some song highlights that she sang and to which you can listen. An article entitled “Recalling Irene Kral” was written by Kirk Silsbee. There are also a couple of brief mentions concerning Irene Kral in James Gavin’s wonderful book, Intimate Nights, and there are several You Tubes available. You may recognize her voice as her songs were used in the 1995 feature film The Bridges of Madison County.
According to Wikipedia, Irene Kral “sang with bands on tours led by Woody Herman and Chubby Jackson, former Herman bass player. She joined Maynard Ferguson’s band in the late 1950s and sang with groups led by Stan Kenton and Shelly Manne.” After singing with these bands, she branched out and began a solo career, and was noted for her singing of ballads. Gavin in Intimate Nights notes that Ms. Kral sang in the new Michael’s Pub, which opened in 1973, in New York City (319).
She made several recordings, which include:
- Boy with Lots of Brass - EmArcy (1957)
- The Band and I - (1958)
- Detour Ahead - United Artists (1958)
- Steveireneo - United Artists (1959)
- Better Than Anything - DRG (1963)
- featured on two tracks from Laurindo Almeida’s Guitar from Ipanema - Capitol (1964)
- Wonderful Life - Mainstream (1965)
- Where Is Love? - (1974)
- Live in Tokyo - (1976)
- Kral Space (Catalyst Records, 1977)
- Gentle Rain - Choice (1977)
- The Buddy Collette Quintet with Irene Kral - Studiowest/VSOP (1997)
- Live Culture Press – (1998)
- Where Is Love? - Choice/Koch (1999)
- You Are There? - Audiophile (1999)
- Just For Now - Jazzed Media (2004)
- Second Chance - Jazzed Media (2010)
I spent some time a couple of days ago listening to several songs sung by Irene Kral that are available on You Tube, and I was struck by two aspects of her singing. First, she has an easy way with her sound–she’s not a belter, at least in the songs I heard, but has got gorgeous tone. And second, her way with lyrics can be a lesson to every cabaret singer. She brings a depth and maturity to the songs that she sings in a way that will reach you as a listener and draw you in to the story told by the lyrics. I thought she was superb.
Here is a great song–’Forgetful”–sung by Irene Kral on the television show “Frankly Jazz,” which according to the notes for the video aired in the 1960s:
And here is Ms. Kral with “This Life We’ve Led”:
Did you ever have the pleasure of seeing Irene Kral perform in person? Which recordings of her songs do you like the most and why? Let us know in the comments below–we love to hear from you!
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Till next time,
ps–The Cabaret Soiree Link Party will begin anew on Monday–you can visit anytime to click on the links and see what others have posted, or you can share your own recent cabaret blog or website link every Monday through Thursday. Link is below.
Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:
Tuesdays: Cabaret Tip Tuesday
Wednesdays: Ask A Cabaret Question
Thursdays: Featured Cabaret Blog, Website, Performer
Fridays: Cabaret Through Time