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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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IRENE KRAL

The Band and I & Steveireneo!

Fresh Sound FSR-CD 626

 

 


1. I'd Know You Anywhere
2. Detour Ahead
3. Comes Love
4. Everybody Knew But Me
5. Lazy Afternoon
6. What's Right For You
7. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart
8. Memphis In June
9. This Little Love
10. The Night We Called It A Day
11. It Isn't So Good
12. Something To Remember You By
13. Too Late The Spring
14. Run (Don't Walk)
15. The Best Time Of The Day
16. Yes
17. There He Goes
18. And Even Then
19. Houseboat
20. Cool Blue
21. What Is A Woman
22. Spring Is Where You Are
23. Impossible
24. Pleasant Dreams

Tracks 1-12
Irene Kral - Vocals
Herb Pomeroy - Leader, trumpet
Lenny Johnson. Augie Ferretti, Nick Capezuto, Bill Berry - Trumpets
Gene DiStasio, Joe Ciavardone, Bill Legan - Trombones
Dave Chapman, Charlie Mariano - Alto saxes
Varty Haroutunian, Joe Carusso - Tenor saxes
Jimmy Mosher - Baritone sax
Ray Santisi - Piano
John Neves - Bass
Jimmy Zitano - Drums

Tracks 13-24
Irene Kral - Vocals
Al Cohn - Conductor
Joe Newman - Trumpet
Urbie Green - Trombone
Zoot Sims - Tenor sax
Danny Bank, Eddie Caine - Reeds
Hank Jones - Piano
Jimmy Raney - Guitar
Chet Amsterdam - Bass
Charlie Persip - Drums
Joe Venuto - Vibes, percussion

 

Irene Kral is not a famous singer - at least when compared with Ella, Billie or Sarah. Yet she had a clear, pleasant voice and sang in tune, with feeling for the lyrics of each song. Born in Chicago in 1932, she died of cancer at the early age of 46. The sister of singing pianist Roy Kral, she worked with the bands of such notables as Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson and Stan Kenton. Perhaps she is not as familiar as she deserves because her voice lacks a distinctive quality which might allow the listener to pick her out from other vocalists.

This CD compilation reissues her first two LPs: The Band and I (tracks 1-12) from 1958 and Steveireneo! (tracks 13-24) from 1959. On the first disc she was backed by a big band, something which always bothers me, as big bands tend to drown singers however well they are recorded. In addition, a large array of musicians playing written ensembles may prevent the spontaneity which a jazz singer needs if she is to improvise freely. But the arrangements, performed by Herb Pomeroy's orchestra (and written by Al Cohn and Ernie Wilkins) don't get too much in the singer's way. The purity of Irene's voice comes through clearly in the introduction to Comes Love, accompanied only by the double bass.

In fact Irene seemed to prefer lesser-known songs. The composers on the first LP include Jimmy McHugh, Irving Berlin and Hoagy Carmichael, but many people would be surprised to find that they were involved respectively in I'd Know You Anywhere, Everybody Knew But Me and Memphis In June. More recognizable tunes include Comes Love and I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart. Two songs by Fran Landesman & Tommy Wolf (This Little Love and It Isn't So Good) illustrate Irene's taste for intelligent lyrics.

The second ludicrously-titled disc has the advantage of simpler, more spacious arrangements from a smaller group, with Joe Venuto's vibes making for an intriguing sound on such tracks as Houseboat. The album consisted of Al Cohn's arrangements of a dozen tunes by Steve Allen. Steve is a better-known performer in America than Britain, as he made a name for himself there not only as a songwriter but also pianist, singer, TV presenter and comedian. His compositions are not well-known, so most or all of the songs here will be new to most listeners. Perhaps that is understandable with clichés like "Baby baby, don't mean maybe" (in Cool Blue) and such un-PC titles as What is a Woman (Without a Man).

Nevertheless, Irene Kral presents these songs as convincingly as she can, and some - like Impossible - come across as near-masterpieces. The sleeve-note describes Kral's singing as "unaffected" and that is the mot juste for her entirely natural delivery - without affectation of straining for effect.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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