[10 January 2003]
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People are sheep. It’s an ugly fact, but it’s an undeniable truth nonetheless. People say they’re strong-willed individuals, but they continue to follow the crowd. Unfortunately, those who lead the crowd are often as ignorant as the followers. Think about it: if everyone else is watching it (Fear Factor, Celebrity Boxing), wearing it (low-rise jeans), ingesting it (Blue Pepsi) or believing it (Kenny G’s music is tolerable), chances are highly favorable that the masses will keep these things going. Nowhere is this more apparent than in music. How else can we account for hip-hop’s surge in bling-bling mentality? What about R&B’s movement toward hard bodies and thug mentality? What about Kenny G’s continued record sales?
Canadian singer/pianist is the antithesis of the trend followers. Born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Krall began studying music at age four. By 15, she was playing jazz standards in a local bar/restaurant. Krall says she was greatly encouraged by her father, a pianist and extreme fan of jazz piano, and grew up listening to (and playing) lots of Fats Waller, James P. Johnson, and Earl “Fatha” Hines. She also sites Dinah Washington, Roberta Flack, Shirley Horn, and Nat “King” Cole among her influences.
In 1993, Krall’s debut album, Stepping Out, was released on Montreal-based label Justin Time Records. Within a year, she was signed to big-league label GRP records, and released Only Trust Your Heart, her first release with producer Tommy LiPuma (Natalie Cole, George Benson). Only Trust Your Heart was Diana’s official leap into the big time, with LiPuma’s production and heavyweight guests Stanley Turrentine on tenor sax, and the late, great Ray Brown on bass. 1995’s All For You was a dedication to the Nat “King” Cole trio, and my introduction to Diana Krall. Boasting 12 swinging tracks that don’t disappoint in any way, All For You stands out as Krall’s best studio LP. 1997 and 1998 saw the release of Love Scenes and When I Look In Your Eyes, respectively. Both solid albums, When I Look In Your Eyes was the one that put her over the top commercially. This disc spent 52 weeks at #1 on Billboard‘s jazz charts, and won two Grammy awards (Best Jazz Vocal Performance and Best Engineered Album - Non-Classical). The Look Of Love followed in 2001, and Diana, once again, failed to disappoint. Anchored by the Burt Bacharach-penned title cut, this disc debuted at #9 on the charts and went platinum within four months.
This year, Ms. Krall released Live In Paris, her first live recording. Recorded between November 29 & 30 and December 1 & 2, 2001 at the Paris Olympia, Live In Paris captures Diana at her absolute best. Her band (Michael Brecker on tenor sax, Rob Mounsey on additional keys, Anthony Wilson on guitar, Christian McBride on bass, Lewis Nash on drums and Luis Quintero on percussion) is flawlessly on-point, and her voice and playing are smoother than cognac. The CD showcases 11 live standards penned by such greats as Harold Arlen (“Let’s Fall in Love”), Bart Howard (“Fly Me to the Moon”), and Joni Mitchell (“A Case of You”). Though the entire disc is mesmerizing, the most outstanding tracks are the ultra-swinging opener “I Love Being Here with You” (which features a quick “shout-out” to Ray Brown in the closing notes), a hypnotizing rendition of Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You under My Skin”, and the only studio track, a cover of Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are”.
The DVD, however, has nearly everything the disc has (“Fly Me to the Moon” and “Just the Way You Are” are both absent), plus additional performance footage, including “All Or Nothing at All”, “Cry Me a River”, and “Love Letters”. Bonus DVD features include behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage and two music videos (“The Look of Love” and “Face the Music and Dance”. Besides, watching Krall musically hypnotize the French audience is reason enough to own the DVD.
So for an experience in true musicianship, class and originality, pick up Diana Krall’s Live In Paris on CD and DVD. You won’t regret it.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/kralldiana-live/