Diana Krall is the quintessential jazz artist and on November 8 she is bringing her show to Las Vegas in the Pearl Concert Theater at the Palms Casino Resort. If you miss this performance, you still have three chances to see her: on November 11, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A. along with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, November 12 at Davies Hall in San Francisco and on November 14 at Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno.
Krall, born and bred in Canada, has been a hit since her debut album, Stepping Out, in 1993. Although known as appearing uncomfortable on stage due to shyness and spending too much time with her back to the audience, she has improved a great deal since those early days. She now opens up more, chats on stage and is much more relaxed during performances.
She has the look of someone who would have made a good actress in film noir back in the 1940’s, and her voice is deep, sexy and always haunting. Instead of singing, it appears as though the perfectly formed notes just slide out effortlessly. She has been spoken of as a combination of Nat King Cole and Peggy Lee and compared in looks to actress Kathleen Turner, but Krall is all her own and does not need comparisons. The songs she writes are personal and the feeling shows through in the lyrics and music. “Departure Bay,” about her first Christmas at home after the death of her mother is poignant and haunting.
After her follow-up album in 1995, she was nominated for a Grammy for her 1996 tribute album to the legendary Nat King Cole, All for You: A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio, which ran for 70 weeks on Billboard’s jazz chart. She also sang “You Don’t Know Me” with Ray Charles on his album, Genius Loves Company. The Look of Love, released in 2001, was in Billboard’s Top 200 and went platinum, selling 1.6 million copies.
In 2001, she kicked off a world tour starting at the Olympia in Paris, that hub of talent that has seen everyone from Edith Piaf to Bruno Mars singing Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are,” and Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” to a packed house. A recording of the show was the first of Krall’s live albums and fans could not get enough. She paired with Tony Bennett for a 20-city tour in 2002 and paired with him again in a duet for the show, “Spectacle: Elvis Costello with …”
Krall’s “I’ll Make It Up As I Go,” was featured in the movie The Score with Robert DeNiro and Marlon Brando in 2001. She began writing her own songs after working with British giant Elvis Costello, whom she married in 2004. This collaboration resulted in twin sons and the album The Girl in the Other Room, with six songs co-written with her husband and became a singular sensation, reaching the top 40 in Australia and the top 5 in Britain. Billboard ranked it one of the best jazz albums of the decade.
Krall journeyed into production with Streisand’s 2009 album, Love Is the Answer. In 2009, she sang “Makin’ Whoopie” along with Elton John and Elvis Costello on the UK/Canadian TV show, Spectacle, with Krall singing and playing a mean piano that would turn the head of any jazz fan. She performed “Fly Me to the Moon “ at Neil Armstrong’s memorial service in 2012. She plays a great Steinway and delivers her songs in a rich, haunting melodic finish.
Why do people like jazz? Lots of reasons. It is the tempo and the raw human feeling that goes into it. It suggests nights spent swaying to a rhythm in and out of bed. Yep, jazz is, if anything, sensual. It gives musicians and fans the chance to let that inner, sometimes shy, sometimes intimate person out — to translate what they feel into music.
People like jazz because it is more than just playing a song. It is the creation of art while it is in progress. A series of notes, changed, added to and embellished along the way is the ultimate musical art form, something that cannot be duplicated by technology or by the average musician, but only accomplished by the true musical artist. Count Basie, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and so many others perfected the art of jazz. It is wonderful to see that the tradition continues with talented performers like Diana Krall.
Will jazz persist you might ask yourself. Hell, yes. As long as Diana Krall and people like her have breath, it will.
I started to write because I developed laryngitis and needed to communicate or burst. It’s true. However, once I discovered the written word, I fell in love. I edited and wrote for my college newspaper and wrote articles for various journals after that. I am still working on the great American novel but I have yet to find the one among many starts I want to finish. Above all, I am fascinated with the world and the people in it. I have a dog who sincerely believes he should write instead of me but I steadfastly refuse to show him how to use the keyboard partly because of writer neurosis and partly because I hate his style.