Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
JACKIE and ROY
Vocal duo Jackie Cain and Roy Kral (b Jacqueline Ruth Cain, 22 May 1928, Milwaukee; Roy Joseph Kral, b 10 October 1921, Cicero IL; d 5 July 2002, Montclair NJ) Pianist, composer, arranger Kral worked for the U.S. Army band during WWII service, then joined the George Davis Quartet in Chicago, and met Jackie in 1947, a striking 18-year-old blonde just out of Pulaski High School in Milwaukee who wanted to be a jazz singer. A friend wanted her to sing with the band; Roy wasn't keen until he heard her sing. They teamed as a bop duo in the Charlie Ventura band '48-9; he was the band's pianist and wrote arrangements; the act sometimes had them in unison with the band's instrumentalists.
Their musical intelligence together with their bright, clear and accurate voices, with similar ranges but an octave apart, made them among the era's best jazz singers; with Eddie Jefferson they were among the inventors of vocalese, using lyrics to fit improvisations (see also Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross); they also wrote amusing songs, such as 'You Smell Good'. Records with Ventura include In Concert (with 'Flamingo', and a Cain solo on 'Over The Rainbow'), and A Charlie Ventura Concert made two weeks before the band split, with the Kral/Ventura composition 'Euphoria', and 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles'. They married '49, formed a bop sextet (guitar and bass were boys, cellist and drummer girls: they made four tracks for Atlantic '49), worked on Chicago TV, rejoined Ventura for most of '53.
Many albums now out of print had Kral on piano and quite a few solo vocals by Cain, who was a fine ballad singer: an album on Brunswick '54, two on Storyville '55, four on ABC '56-8 with some arrangements by Quincy Jones, sidemen Phil Woods, Clark Terry, etc; three on Columbia '60-2; Grass on Capitol '68 had songs by Paul Simon, Bee Gees, Donovan and Kral colleague Fran Landesman. By Jupiter and Girl Crazy were on Roulette; Changes and Lovesick on Verve '66; Time And Love and A Wilder Alias on CTI '72-3 (the latter featured Kral tunes), Concerts By The Sea '76 on Studio 7. They also did TV commercials, notably for Plymouth '60; many tours, jazz festivals, TV spots, writing: Jackie co-wrote 'Fred Astaire' with guitarist/vocalist Eddie Hazell (b 6 February 1934, Passaic NJ; albums on Audiophile, Eden).
Three Jackie and Roy albums on Concord '79-82 accompanied by small groups were Star Sounds, East Of Suez and High Standards (nominated for a Grammy); then A Stephen Sondheim Collection (live at Michael's Pub) '82, first on Finesse, then on Stet and Red Baron CDs; We've Got It: The Music Of Cy Coleman '84 on Discovery and Bogie '86 on Fantasy, new and old songs associated with Humphrey Bogart; One More Rose (Alan Jay Lerner) and An Alec Wilder Collection '90 on Audiophile; other CDs on Black Lion and Contemporary. Roy's sister was also a fine singer; see Irene Kral.