Personnel: Irene Kral (vocals); Irene Kral; Bob Magnusson (double bass); Tony Marillo (drums); Mike Wofford (piano).
Audio Mixer: Rod Nicas.
Liner Note Authors: James Gavin; Phil Woods.
Recording information: The Catamaran Hotel, San Diego, CA (06/13/1975/06/14/1975).
Irene Kral was a gifted singer able to illuminate the essence of each song without a lot of unnecessary frills. Her career, which stretched just over a quarter century prior to her death from cancer in 1978, was a flurry of recording activity following the 1975 release Where Is Love?, a Grammy-nominated duo date with Alan Broadbent that attracted a lot of attention. Sadly, most of her albums lapsed from print following her death, so this previously unreleased live CD, recorded at the Catamaran Hotel in San Diego six months after Where Is Love?, is a welcome addition to her discography. Joined by a superb rhythm section consisting of pianist Mike Wofford, bassist Bob Magnusson and drummer Tony Marillo, Kral offers a delightful mix of standards, pop songs, obscurities and novelties. She masters Cole Porter's challenging "Experiment" without a slip, delights in the humor of Dave Frishberg's "Wheelers and Dealers" and Fran Landesman's sarcastic "Nice Weather for Ducks," while venturing into current pop with a crisp bossa nova setting of Stevie Wonder's hit "You Are the Sunshine of My Life." But it is hard to top her haunting interpretation of Lionel Bart's "Where Is Love?" (from the musical Oliver!), a moving performance with sensitive backing by Wofford and a delayed entrance by Magnusson and Marillo. This CD represents Irene Kral at her very best and there is another reason for her fans to celebrate: at least one more unissued performance is in Jazzed Media's holdings with plans for a future release. ~ Ken Dryden