Theme and Variations

Thoughts and experiences of exploring classical, jazz, and other art music.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Diana Krall

I'm not all that sophisticated in my methods for choosing new music, particularly when it come to jazz. One way is that I hear something on the radio or on someone's sound system and think, "Hey! That's pretty good!" Another way (I'm almost embarrassed to say this) is that I see an attractive woman on the CD cover. That's how I came to be a fan of Diana Krall.

Recently I added Krall's The Girl in the Other Room CD to my collection, and popped it into the player. What emerged was some of the most amazing straight jazz I've heard in some time.

Krall has a way of making great music with a small combo that is the heart of great jazz. You won't hear a lot of orchestration, but what accompaniment you do get accentuates not only Krall's gifted voice talents, but also the words and melody itself. Along with vocals, she also plays keyboards. On Other Room Krall performs mostly her own music, much of it cowritten with husband Elvis Costello.

I was even more enthralled with her 1999 release When I Look in Your Eyes. The CD starts out with Irving Berlin's Let's Face the Music and Dance, which does include some orchestration but, Oh Wow! What a great tune and a great performance. She also does a great job with the Michael Franks tune Popsicle Toes (lyrics adjusted for a woman singer) that has this way of playing on in your head long after the song is done. And then there's Cole Porter's I've Got You Under My Skin.

I suppose if you were skeptical and wanted a taste of Krall's talents, I would recommend the Live in Paris CD, a 2002 release. It's clear that she gives memorable performances, and she is on my list to hopefully one day see live.

Krall was also featured in the Woody Allen film Anything Else, a pretty good movie in its own right (with Allen playing a gun nut, go figure). Say what you will about Allen the filmmaker or Allen the man, he always showcases some pretty good music (I believe he is a clarinetist himself).

So, maybe my acquisition methods for building a jazz collection don't spring from a pure sensibility for the music, but I have to say that, so far, it has worked out pretty well.


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