Jazz diva Diana Krall – singer, songwriter and gifted pianist – has enjoyed great critical success. Willowy, Canadian and blonde she’s both charming and self deprecating in interviews – and extremely likable to my way of thinking. Krall has seen her modest beginnings expand gradually throughout the years notably with a Grammy award win with “When I Look in Your Eyes” (Best Jazz Vocal) as well as a nomination for Album of The Year. (She also had the added distinction of being the first jazz record in 25 years to receive such a nomination). Her other recordings have been equally well received from “The Look of Love” a fantastically romantic spin (a number one hit in the US and a five–time platinum album in Canada) to the very different “Quiet Nights” which invokes Brazilian themes and flirts with bossa nova. She is also an accomplished pianist and songwriter. Diana and hubby/Brit rocker Elvis Costello - whose work I also admire hugely - have also co-written some tunes together which are featured on "The Girl in the Other Room"an album which spotlights Krall’s own songwriting. She’s been paired with many of the jazz greats throughout the years including a tour with Tony Bennett.
For those just beginning to dabble in jazz or trying to sort out what they like and what they don’t, Diana Krall is an excellent place to start. Although she has been sometimes been called “Easy Listening” (a term I can hardly abide) or worse still “Background Music” (what is that?) these categories are an insult to her music and the genre she represents. She often selects material from classic eras (think: Frank Sinatra, Cole Porter) but Krall is never a poseur. She presents her own version that stands independently and solidly from the original but at the same time, it's clear that she has a deep respect for the music.(Actually,why not seek out the original versions yourself? It's interesting too if you are trying to get any kind of jazz collection going on).
You’ll find Krall’s voice is sultry, buttery rich and smoky. There’s a trademark silken rasp – sometimes painful, sometimes a whisper – but if you listen you’ll definitely hear it. ‘Sensual’ may have been overused to describe her style but you get the idea – she’s all about that sexy, breathy delivery but approaches it in an intelligent, unique phrasing all her own. Check out her “Very Best of Diana Krall” or “All for You – A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio.” It’s heady stuff. As an aside, she also has a really outstanding Christmas record (“Christmas Songs”) that would add instant sophistication to any gathering.
Check out the samples below and as always – drop by the Jazz forum and let me know what you think!