Jazz Reviews : The Cain-and-Kral Formula at Work at Vine St.

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The team of Jackie Cain and Roy Kral belongs among the seven wonders of the jazz vocal world; indeed, compared to them it is hard to imagine what the six others might be.

When they opened Thursday at the Vine St. Bar & Grill (a day late, because of an injury sustained by Kral), it was a safe bet that most of their listeners were infants, or perhaps unborn, when this unique vocal duo began working together. Cain still has the trim figure, the fabulous cheekbones, the blond pageboy hairdo, the ready smile; Kral (her husband since 1949) remains similarly untouched by the inroads of four decades.

Their formula is as simple as ever: mainly octave unison vocals, with moments of two-part harmony, and occasional wordless passages that are too elegant to be stigmatized as scat singing. Kral’s piano solos are effectively cast in the mainstream mold; his teammates, Seward McCain on bass and Kurt Moore on drums, furnished the right light touch that is the essence of the Krals’ sempiternal charm.


Much of the show Thursday was geared to an assortment of Lerner & Loewe songs, but not to the exclusion of a typical jazz piece (Gerry Mulligan’s “Line for Lyons”) and a brand new, exquisite song called “Lost.” This poignant lyric by Fran Landesman (whose “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” was also included) is splendidly matched with a touching melody by Kral.

A few numbers were solo vehicles for Cain or, in one instance, Kral. Separately or teamed, they were in consummate form. The inclusion of “You Haven’t Changed at All” in the Lerner & Loewe segment seemed as though it should have been sung for Cain, rather than by her.

They wound up the proceedings, as has long been their tradition, with “Mountain Greenery,” a hit in the “Garrick Gaieties of 1926,” a hit record for the Krals in 1955. It still sparkles with the same mountain-dew purity they have brought to it through all their yesteryears. They will no doubt keep it in the show through their Saturday closing.