Irene Kral was the younger sister of Roy Kral, of Jackie & Roy. Early in Irene’s career she sang with both Maynard Ferguson’s and Herb Pomeroy’s big bands. She made a fantastic record with the Junior Mance trio called Better Than Anything and was a serious champion of songwriters like Tommy Wolf, Bob Dorough, and Dave Frishberg. Carmen McRae numbered among Irene’s many fans, and Carmen was, by all accounts, not easily impressed.
Unfortunately, Irene died of cancer in 1978; she was only 46 years old. A few years earlier, in 1974, she and Alan Broadbent recorded Where Is Love, a collection of voice and piano ballad duets.
I’m not sure if Irene was already ill when she made this record, which she called “the definitive example of [her] work,” but the following passage from her self-penned liner notes suggests this may have been the case:
I would like to dedicate this album to my late father…from whom I have, hopefully, inherited the strength to overcome life’s adversities and enjoy its beauty.
With clarion tone, elegant phrasing, and deep emotion, Irene Kral reminds us that, in this life, we love people who don’t always love us back. We feel lonely. We have to say goodbye to people and places we love. Our most joyful moments are suffused with tears, knowing that the moment–and we–will be gone too soon.
Somehow, Irene communicates all this without one unnecessary vocal flourish, without a shred of sentimentality. Her interpretations are pure, generous, and without vanity. Alan Broadbent is supportive, creative and utterly deferential to the songs and Irene’s singing.
Irene Kral’s Where Is Love is a desert-island record.