by Paulanne Simmons
Some people sing. Jazz vocalist Laurie Krauz mines every melody and interprets every note until the song emerges splendidly original and unique. And some people play the piano. But arranger/musical director Daryl Kojak makes those keys vibrate with a rhythmic intensity that supports the lyrics and takes the singer (and the audience) on a musical adventure.
Together, Kojak and Krauz turn every tune into a feast for body and soul. And they’ve been doing that for 25 years. On May 13, Kojak and Krauz celebrated at Metropolitan Room those 25 years of collaboration, with an eclectic mix of jazz numbers.
The repertoire ranged from Comden and Green and Jule Styne’s romantic “Never Neverland” to Porter’s flip “Just One of Those Things,” and from the commitment of Michel Legrand’s “I Will Wait for You” and Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” to the saucy promiscuity of some unknown songwriter’s “Send Me a Man.” There were even two by Kojak himself, “Birthday Blues” and “Ducksoup,” which allowed Krauz to demonstrate her considerable talents singing scat.
Krauz described her collaboration with Kojak as “like working for the same company for 25 years,” something that does not happen very often nowadays. She remembered the first time she met Kojak when she was looking for a new musical director and the professional chemistry began. Since then, they have performed at Birdland, the Iridium… and Metropolitan Room “a zillion times.”
Backed by Kojak at the piano, with Sean Conly on bass and Gene Lewin on drums, Krauz showed just how far she’s come as a jazz singer since that day when she decided to change course. Blessed with those soulful low notes that give jazz the blues, she knows how to take the audience on an emotional journey. What’s more, it’s an emotional journey with unpredictable touches of irony and humor that lead us to the “Glory of Love,” which happened to be the evening’s penultimate song.
Here’s to another twenty five years.
Celebrating 25 Years of Making Music is the ninth show in the monthly series, New York Cabaret’s Greatest Hits (Stephen Hanks, producer), at Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street www.metropolitanroom.com.