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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Laurie Krauz: Tapestry Rewoven

In the ginchy yet tasteful digs known as the Metropolitan Room on West 22nd Street, I saw the most outstanding act Tuesday night with my friends Kevin and Amy: Laurie Krauz -- with The Daryl Kojak Octet! High-concept, high-octane cabaret. Dubbed Tapestry Rewoven, the show is a jazz interpretation of the iconic Carole King album that, surprisingly, pulls off its conceit big time! Even Laurie and Daryl were surprised initially, according to Ms Krauz' patter.

The entire Tapestry album was socked to us by Krauz' skillful, silky vocalizing, along with the band and three-girl back-up singers known, for the purposes of this show, as The Natural Women (Emily Bindiger, Margaret Dorn, Kathryn Raio).

Laurie won a Bistro Award for this act and, since I'll be attending this year's Bistro ceremony on March 4, it seemed apt for me to catch up when invited; a bon vivant in cafe society. Ms Krauz appeared, svelte in a sparkly low-cut gown with spaghetti straps and chandelier earrings, telegraphing her chanteuse status to us. But it is her unique voice that gripped the audience and transported us through the quilt of songs starting with "So Far Away." Ironically, the sold-out (and very enthusiastic) crowd was immediately drawn so close together.

In this tapestry, it was the diva's good nature, often hilarious patter, quips, anecdotes and comic mugging that charmed and threaded the well-known numbers into a masterpiece. Her stage presence and unique phrasing were perfection, her voice impressionistic at times, her powerful wealth of emotion pulling us in constantly, vocals melding into the sound of the amazing band (Michael Bates on bass; Gene Lewin, drums; Michael Blake (sax); Jamie Fox (guitar); Daryl Kojak on piano). Creating "a unique soulful jazz" says her bio and it ain't just hype.

Tapestry album favorites "I Feel the Earth Move," "It's Too Late," "Beautiful," "You've Got a Friend" and "Natural Woman" became fresh and new again with the interpretations the singer and musical director Kojak created with dexterous skill and feeling.

My friend, Bistro and Edge New York critic, Kevin Scott Hall, took to the stage to talk about Tapestry Rewoven having become a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts; seeking donations for the noble cultural cause of promoting jazz for future generations. He was eloquent and made us all proud once again. (Visit and search for "Krauz.")

Laurie, with able assist from the band and poignant, '60s-styled back-up girls, ended on a powerful remodeled version of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" We will, Laurie. And where you lead, we will follow.

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