Cabaret Scenes Magazine

Karen-Celeste-Kruz-Cabaret-Scenes-MagazineHold the sour cream! Karen Celeste Kruz didn’t need it because everything went so well in her solo cabaret debut.

Coming as she does from a Hungarian background, she told the audience that sour cream is regarded as the answer to everything— whether in recipes or for any kind of family crisis. But there was no need for dairy in a show in which Kruz showed off her smooth voice, expressive delivery and powerful jazz chops.

She came out confidently, with the audience clapping along almost immediately on her opening number, “Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life)” (Pam Tillis/Jess Leary), which includes the lyric that gave the autobiographical show its name. She followed with “Gypsy in My Soul” (Clay Boland/Moe Jaffe) that interspersed an up-tempo arrangement on the lyrics with instrumental piano accompaniment in between that slowed the tempo to reflect the haunting gypsy sounds of Hungary.

Emotive piano accompaniment by Musical Director Jamieson Trotter was abetted throughout the evening by a stellar group of musicians: Dori Amarilio on guitar, Kat Hopkins on percussion, and Al Garcia, Kruz’s husband, on bass — a relationship that led to a special moment late in the show when Garcia joined Kruz center-stage to provide effective solo accompaniment on “Slap That Bass” (George and Ira Gershwin).

Kruz seemed to enchant the audience during a song about an older singer reflecting on life in “That Afternoon in Harlem” (Mark Winkler/Marilyn J. Harris), a stunningly evocative piece with an old-time feel that was enhanced by Kruz’s tender, thoughtful delivery and Trotter’s passionate piano playing. She also scored big-time with a strong, dynamic version of “Walking in Memphis” (Marc Cohn).

She demonstrated her outstanding versatility on a trio of very different songs in succession: a driving “Caravan” (Duke Ellington/Juan Tizol) in a fully committed performance that featured outstanding instrumental work by her quartet of musicians; followed by a gentle, heartfelt, gospel-tinged “Way Over Yonder” (Carole King); and then, in a pleasant change of pace, the adorable “No Soap, No Hope Blues” (Richard Adler/Jerry Ross).

Kruz was joined by guest singer Gary Brumburgh, who emerged from the audience for a fun duet on “Snap Your Fingers” (Grady Martin/Alex Zanetis) that featured warm verbal and visual interplay between them.

She continued to demonstrate how versatile she is with a powerful, soulful take on Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man,” followed immediately by a mood-brightening, swinging version of Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies” that showed off her wide vocal range as the song progressed.

Kruz credited Keri Kelsey as a creative consultant.

Karen Celeste Kruz

Karen Celeste Kruz is a renowned vocalist who can sing in many styles. Known primarily as a Jazz vocalist, Karen also performs Blues, R&B, Rock, Country and other styles.


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