Bronx, New York native Laurie Krauz is a flexible jazz vocalist who can be aggressive, gritty, and hard-swinging but is also quite capable of sensitivity and vulnerability. Krauz has her share of technique, and scat singing is one of her strong points. But even though she can be quite a belter at times, Krauz is not an exercise in chops for the sake of chops or someone who operates under the assumption that technique is everything. Krauz doesn't treat the lyrics like an afterthought; her admirers, in fact, have often commented on her willingness to pay close attention to the lyrics she is interpreting.
In terms of influences, Krauz looks to a variety of jazz singers for inspiration. Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, and Dianne Reeves are strong influences, and Krauz has also been affected by the daring innovations of Annie Ross, Sheila Jordan, and -- to a degree -- Betty Carter. However, Krauz isn't as consistently abstract and cerebral as the avant-garde Carter -- she's generally much more accessible -- and she has a bigger voice than Jordan. Whether Krauz is being funky and bluesy or more intellectual depends on the mood she is in.
Born on August 18, 1955, Krauz began studying the piano when she was only five. But when she reached adulthood, she didn't plan on having a career in music. While attending Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania from 1973-1976, Krauz only studied music on the side -- and after returning to New York City to continue her studies at New York University, she obtained an MBA and concentrated on finance and banking. Krauz worked on Wall Street after graduating, but she eventually became more and more involved in the arts.
The mid-'80s found the vocalist concentrating on musical theater and touring both the United States and Canada as part of a theatrical outfit, but after that, she decided that improvisational jazz singing was her calling in life and made that her primary focus. Krauz studied with some first-rate jazz vocalists along the way, including Carla White and the innovative Mark Murphy -- and throughout the '90s she was quite active on the Manhattan jazz scene (where she crossed paths with tenor saxophonist George Coleman, acoustic pianist Harold Mabern, and cornetist Warren Vaché, among others).
One person who has backed Krauz frequently in the Big Apple is acoustic pianist Daryl Kojak, who ended up playing a prominent role on her first album, Catch Me If You Can. Released by the independent LML Music in 2001, Catch Me If You Can was produced by Krauz and Kojak (who is listed as the album's arranger and musical director). Krauz has served as president of the New York City chapter of the Jazz Vocal Coalition. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi