322

Irene Kral: Irene Kral: Just for Now

Victor L. Schermer By

Sign in to view read count
Irene Kral: Irene Kral: Just for Now Just for Now
Irene Kral
Jazzed Media JM1003
2004

Irene Kral (1932-1978) was a gem of a vocalist who was brought to the public’s attention by Clint Eastwood, who used excerpts of her recordings in the 1995 movie, “The Bridges of Madison County.” Like Chris Connor, June Christie, and Anita O’Day, she came up the way of the big bands (in her case, those of Joe Burckhardt and Maynard Ferguson) and then established herself with various small ensembles with a cult of fans that included Carmen McRae, Eastwood, and Johnny Carson. Her phrasing, timing, and intonation were impeccable, and her interpretations timeless, parsimonious, and sincere. Her career never “took off” in terms of fame and fortune, partly because of her untimely death from breast cancer, and partly because, like Johnny Hartman, also featured in the Eastwood film, she was just too good and too subtle to be appreciated by a mass audience.

In the last decade, a number of her studio and nightclub recordings have been released on CD. As an avid fan of hers, I relish each one that I find and listen to them often. Recently, Graham Carter, CEO of Jazzed Media was fortunate enough to locate, and obtain permission from Kral’s estate to release on CD, a master tape made during two nights of a club date at the Catamaran Hotel in San Diego in 1975 and hitherto unavailable. While it is not the absolute best of the singer’s recordings from this period, it offers many moments of the beautiful and nuanced musical interpretations which were Irene’s hallmark. More than anyone, she learned from her big band mentorships how to make the most of each note, capture the essence of a musical phrase, and provide a sense of the absolute that transcends the rhythmic pulse to distill the music’s essence. In this album, as in her others, her memorable depth pervades and prevails.

Although in some ways the quality of this recording is surprisingly good for an analog “live” nightclub recording, Kral’s volume and audibility sometimes varies, and Bob Magnusson’s bass, unfortunately amplified as was the tendency during that time of so-called “jazz fusion,” is intrusive. Still, the accompaniment is generally good, and Kral’s renditions of "Just for Now," “Here’s that Rainy Day” and “The Meaning of the Blues” are truly heartrending. Most of the tunes appear on other of her CDs, and Kral aficionados will discover her remarkable consistency with these songs. She didn’t play around with what she evidently felt graced to receive from the songwriters.

The detailed liner notes by James Gavin offer some new glimpses into Kral’s life, career, illness, and death from cancer. He closes with a poignant quotation from her brother Roy Kral about her last moments on earth, spent with Roy and her second husband, Dennis Smith, moments so tender as to break any heart. Charlie Parker said, “If you haven’t been through it, it won’t come out of your horn.” Irene Kral knew the joy of living in the now, the rainy days, and the meaning of the blues. You will hear her remarkable soul in this recording. It is the soul of a woman who dared find, define, and refine her own true voice. One can only hope that Graham Carter and his colleagues will uncover other jazz treasures, however imperfect, hidden away like this one and bring them to the light of day.

Track Listing: 1. Experiment - 2:02, 2. Where Is Love? - 4:12, 3. Wheelers and Dealers - 2:43, 4. Nice Weather for Ducks - 3:04, 5. I Fall in Love Too Easily - 6:43, 6. Rock Me to Sleep - 2:26, 7. Just for Now - 4:24, 8. You Are the Sunshine of My Life - 3:26, 9. Here's That Rainy Day - 4:14, 10. It's a Wonderful World - 2:40, 11. The Meaning of the Blues - 4:02, 12. Sunday - 2:27, 13. I Like You, You're Nice - 3:02

Personnel: Irene Kral, vocals, Mike Wofford, piano, Bob Magnusson, Bass, Tony Marillo, Drums.


Title: Irene Kral: Just for Now | Year Released: 2004


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Motel Shot: Expanded Edition Extended Analysis Motel Shot: Expanded Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: July 16, 2017
Read Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe  Edition Extended Analysis Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2017
Read Grateful Dead: Cornell '77 Extended Analysis Grateful Dead: Cornell '77
by Doug Collette
Published: May 6, 2017
Read "Big Star: Complete Third" Extended Analysis Big Star: Complete Third
by Doug Collette
Published: October 15, 2016
Read "Yes: Tales from Topographic Oceans (Definitive Edition)" Extended Analysis Yes: Tales from Topographic Oceans (Definitive Edition)
by John Kelman
Published: October 8, 2016
Read "Unreleased Art: Volume 9 - Art Pepper & Warne Marsh At Donte's, April 26, 1974" Extended Analysis Unreleased Art: Volume 9 - Art Pepper & Warne Marsh At...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 24, 2016
Read "Van Morrison: It's Too Late to Stop Now - Volumes II, III, IV & DVD" Extended Analysis Van Morrison: It's Too Late to Stop Now - Volumes II,...
by Doug Collette
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "The Rolling Stones: Blue and Lonesome" Extended Analysis The Rolling Stones: Blue and Lonesome
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Eve Risser White Desert Orchestra: Les Deux Versants Se Regardent" Extended Analysis Eve Risser White Desert Orchestra: Les Deux Versants Se...
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 10, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.