[Dixielandjazz] FW: NYTimes.com Article: Roy Kral, Half of a Duo That Jazzed Up Pop, Dies at 80
Mon, 5 Aug 2002 09:22:20 -0700
When I was a teen whose passion for jazz was just beginning, the singing of
Jackie and Roy was one of the reasons for this passion. This was at the
time that generally sappy songs sung by generally sappy voices ruled the
charts. Hearing Jackie and Roy for the first time opened my ears up to the
possibility that the voice could be a jazz instrument.
Jackie & Roy were not Dixieland or Swing, but they embodied a vocal bebop
which extended vocal styling in jazz much like the Boswell Sisters did with
an earlier form of jazz.
Subject: NYTimes.com Article: Roy Kral, Half of a Duo That Jazzed Up Pop,
Dies at 80
Roy Kral, Half of a Duo That Jazzed Up Pop, Dies at 80
August 5, 2002
By LYDIA POLGREEN
Roy Kral, whose cool interpretations of classic pop songs
in the language of jazz were the trademark of one of jazz's
most famous duos, Jackie and Roy, died Friday at his home
in Montclair, N.J. He was 80.
The cause was congestive heart failure, said Jackie Cain,
his wife and collaborator for more than half a century.
Mr. Kral was best known for finding intriguing and
unexpected songs in different genres and performing them
with Ms. Cain in a sophisticated bebop style filled with
scat riffs, known as vocalese.
Their voices had similar ranges but were an octave apart,
creating unusual harmonies. They recorded nearly 40 albums
in 56 years of singing together, producing hits like
"Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," "You Inspire Me"
and "It's a Lovely Day Today."
He and Ms. Cain became Jackie and Roy, performing a blend
of pop, jazz and Latin music, all inflected with a jazz
sensibility that led Billie Holiday to exclaim upon hearing
them in 1950, "Bop like this is here to stay!"
"They were one of the most important vocal groups in jazz,"
said James Gavin, a jazz historian. "They came along in the
bebop era and found a way to combine bebop singing with
cabaret. It was very polished, hip cabaret, but it was jazz
singing at the same time."
As a pianist and singer for Charlie Ventura's band, Bop for
the People, in 1948, Mr. Kral reluctantly agreed to write a
new arrangement of the 1919 pop song "I'm Forever Blowing
Bubbles," at the urging of the group's manager, Don Palmer.
Mr. Kral added a bebop sensibility and scat singing to what
had been a rather insipid pop standard, transforming it
into a cool, jazzy tune. It was their first hit.
"Roy really resisted doing the song, but he made it into
something very special," Ms. Cain said.
Mr. Kral was born in Cicero, Ill., on Oct. 10, 1921, the
son of Joseph S. Kral, a local politician, and his wife,
Georgiana. Urged on by his mother, he took classical piano
lessons as a young boy but abandoned them to teach himself
to play jazz piano by mimicking what he heard while
listening to the radio under his blanket after bedtime.
After serving in the Army during World War II as an
arranger for the Army band, Mr. Kral moved to Chicago,
where he joined a band called the George Davis Quartet, Ms.
He met Ms. Cain in 1947, when she was a striking
18-year-old blonde just out of Pulaski High School in
Milwaukee who dreamed of being a jazz singer. A mutual
friend who invited Ms. Cain to sing with the band
introduced them. It was not love at first sight.
"Roy didn't really want me to sing, but our friend kind of
coerced him," Ms. Cain said.
Once he heard her sing, he changed his tune, she said. They
were married in 1949.
Though he had been in declining health for several years,
Mr. Kral continued to perform. Jackie and Roy sang at the
Kaye Playhouse in June in a concert saluting the singer
Teddi King, Mr. Gavin said.
Mr. Kral is survived by his wife and three daughters, Dana
Kral of Montclair, N.J.; Carol May of Elgin, Ill.; and
Tiffany Bolling-Casares of Los Angeles.
Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company