Some fan I am. Despite three previous Diana Krall raves, I somehow missed this 2006 Verve release. I saw it recently in a used CD store. Brought it home however, only to find that I already had two copies of the same CD already! What can I say about a CD I don't remember? Yet a fan I am. On my stereo system, where gentle music closes out rough days, I cannot get enough of her music. The leggy Canadian blonde croons soulful love songs like the keening Billie Holiday. Although Krall is mainly a cover artist, she resurrects black and white classics with melodic color and rhythmic parlance. She captures the gilded essence of the American songbook with tunes reminiscent of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat "King" Cole, but without the harsh, antiquated recording techniques.
The 24-bit/96hHz remix of her first sensuous album, Stepping Out, remains in heavy rotation in my critical reference stack. I use it to test new pieces of equipment. "She is," as the great Robert Palmer sang, "my addiction."
1. It Could Happen To You
Nominated for a Grammy in 2007 as Best Jazz Vocal Album, this album repeats her past formulas. Her A-team returns with producer Tommy LiPuma, engineer Al Schmitt and arranger/bandleader John Clayton. The album harkens not only to the joyous sounds of her second Christmas album, but also to its themes and arrangements.
Krall is a contralto singer like Etta James or "Little Buttercup" in H.M.S. Pinafore (Gilbert and Sullivan). On this album, she once again focuses the strength of her voice to revive a by-gone era. Like Patricia Barber and K.D. Lang, Krall knows how to breathe meaning in words. Here, she alternates slow-paced dirges, sung in a husky monotone, with swing tunes. "What can I say," she states flatly, "when a love affair is over?" And on a Nina Simone and Frank Sinatra tune, "just sit there and count your fingers, unlucky little girl blue." She digs deep on "Willow Weep," but doesn't have the startling impact of Cassandra Wilson's evocative "Strange Fruit."
Krall thankfully brings back the most intoxicating instrument
of the jazz repertoire, the saxophone, on three tunes. (See The
Devil's Horn, a book by Michael Segell for jazz lovers.) Yet on
Fan I am, I don't think from this moment on has too much polish or as someone wrote, "an illegal quantity of premeditation and forethought." It is Krall's showy control I relish. It is the spaces between the notes where she makes her music. I think production values are up to her superb standard, from delicate brush strokes to blasts of brass to the raw rub of rosin on the strings. You can hear details of tenderness and intelligence. It is nightclub jazz of a bygone era. Now I know why Krall appears in the Johnny Depp's latest Public Enemies movie.
Then the album is over and I can't think of a particular song
to which I am dying to return. Now I see how this album slid under my radar. Not
just once, but twice before! It is out of place. It is Christmas music in a