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Farewell: Jackie Cain (online exclusive)

5.22.28-9.15.14

Jackie Cain and Roy Kral

While still in my teens in the 1970s, discovering the world of cabaret and jazz singing, I very quickly found out about Jackie and Roy [Kral, Cain’s husband and music partner for more than a half-century]. At the time, I was intent on being sophisticated, and Jackie and Roy were part of my self-indoctrination into everything I considered smart, superior and hip. I went on a tear, collecting all their then out-of-print albums. I knew by the nature of what they sang-material by Fran Landesman, Bob Dorough, Bart Howard, Alec Wilder and other cultish songwriters-and by their hip treatments of songs by Rodgers and Hart, Irving Berlin, etc., that this was something you had to be pretty smart to appreciate.

And their sound swung. It had a wonderful breeziness and vivacity. Jackie’s voice was simply beautiful. It was a rare voice in jazz. It wasn’t battered, nor was it an unfeeling voice that was trying too hard to emulate an instrument. She phrased beautifully, and she thought about what she was singing. The sound was translucent, liquid, effortless and perfectly in tune. When she sang with Roy, it was clear that these two people were meant for one another. They harmonized some, but mostly they sang in unison an octave apart. Their sound had that special blend you usually hear in sibling harmony singing. In those cases, it’s in the genes. Here it was an instance of two people who resonated together, personally and musically, on a deep level.

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