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Krall, Diana

Diana Krall

Pianist, singer

Canadian jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall became the toast of the international jazz scene, as well as to more mainstream audiences, during the mid-1990s. The late 1990s and early 2000s brought her a Grammy Award and three Canadian Juno Awards for her work, and even broader international acclaim. A modest yet commanding performer, Krall plays mostly her own interpretations of the old jazz standards accompanied by her relaxed, intimate singing style. She broke new ground in 2004 with her first release to include original material, the album The Girl in the Other Room, which also features collaborations with her recently wedded husband, rock singer/songwriter Elvis Costello.

Despite Krall's undeniable talent as a serious pianist and singer, her success drew attack from some jazz critics and fans who accused her of selling out to the popular culture by playing to a wide range of audiences; in 1998, for example, she appeared on two episodes of television's Melrose Place playing herself as a performer at a local bar and toured with Sarah McLachlan's all-female Lillith Fair concert.

Krall herself felt somewhat uneasy about her sudden fame. "Well, I'm shy. And I'm embarrassed," she admitted to Gene Lees in Jazz Times. "I feel like that when I walk out on stage and everybody claps. When we finish a show … and people give me a standing ovation, I feel like saying, 'No, it's okay, sit down and don't bother.' I'm not comfortable with it. I love to make people happy but I'm not comfortable with that." Furthermore, Krall, who never expected to rise to the top of jazz and who just wanted to play the piano, found that standing in the limelight included its drawbacks, adding, "I think I put a lot of pressure on myself where it isn't necessary. I'm trying to handle it. I'm happy for my success, and I'm trying to enjoy it."

Family Fostered Her Love of Music

Krall was born on November 16, 1964, in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, a town located west of Vancouver across the Strait of Georgia on Vancouver Island. As a child, Krall, the oldest of two daughters (her sister later became a police officer in Nanaimo), enjoyed a home always filled with music. Her father, an accountant, accumulated over the years an enormous record and sheet music collection and Krall's mother Adella, an elementary school teacher and librarian who later earned a master's degree in educational administration, played the piano and sang. Both parents loved music and old television and radio shows. In addition, the future jazz musician's great, great aunt performed in Vaudeville in New York City. "I couldn't have had more supportive parents," Krall related to Lees. "The most important thing for me is my family."

Nevertheless, Krall's parents at first held other hopes for their daughter's future. When one of her piano teachers told her mother that Krall possessed the potential to play jazz or pop music as a professional, Krall's mother recalled to David Hayes in Chatelaine, "I just smiled and thought, well, that's nice of her to say but Diana's going to university. I didn't want her playing in bars. I didn't have much regard for music as a career."

In many ways, though, Krall experienced a typical middle-class, small-town upbringing. She spent summers at the beach and winters on the ski slopes, listened to rock stars like Peter Frampton and the group Supertramp, and held dreams of exploring space as an astronaut, building model rockets with friend Bob Thirsk. (While Krall never made it to Canada's space program, Thirsk did, and he even took one of her CDs on the space shuttle with him.)

However, Krall, who began playing the piano at age four, was also drawn to the music handed down from her father's record collection, including recordings of Fats Waller and Bing Crosby. She started taking piano lessons and singing with her paternal grandmother. Every day after school, she would go to her grandmother's house to play piano and sing, but Krall would never sing at home because she never thought she had a good enough voice. By 15, she played piano in a local bar and restaurant, singing as little as possible. At age 17, she won a scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She studied in Boston for 18 months before returning to Nanaimo.

Earned Her Parents' Blessing

Krall's big break came two years later in 1983, when her parents sent her to jazz camp in Port Townsend, Washington. Through the camp director, Bud Shank, she met drummer Jeff Hamilton, a member of an influential west coast jazz quartet called the L.A. 4. A few weeks later, when his quartet was playing a show in Krall's hometown, Hamilton brought legendary jazz bassist Ray Brown (the first husband of singer Ella Fitzgerald whom Krall would later record with) to hear her perform at a bar down the street. Like Hamilton, Brown was impressed by the young pianist's talent. During their stay in Nanaimo, she invited the two musicians to her family's home for dinner, and Hamilton convinced Krall's mother that her daughter could "make it in jazz." Although her mother had previously disapproved of Krall pursuing a career in jazz music, an industry often known for disappointments, she changed her mind after spending time with Hamilton and Brown. She remembered thinking, "These musicians have distinguished careers. They're pretty real people," as she told Hayes.

For the Record …

Born on November 16, 1964, in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada; daughter of an accountant father and teacher, librarian mother; married Elvis Costello (a singer/songwriter), 2003. Education: Attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.

Began playing piano in local bars at age 15; earned scholarship at age 17 to Berklee College of Music; attended jazz camp in Port Townsend, WA; discovered by drummer Jeff Hamilton and legendary bassist Ray Brown, earned grant from Canada Arts Council to study in Los Angeles with Broadbent and Rowles, 1983; moved to New York City to study under Renzi, joined jazz trio in Boston, 1990; released first album, Steppin' Out, 1993; released Only Trust Your Heart, 1994; released All For You, a tribute album to Nat King Cole, 1995; released Love Scenes, 1997; toured with Lillith Fair concert, released Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, 1998; released When I Look In Your Eyes, which won a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, 1999; released The Book of Love, 2001; won three Juno awards, 2002; released Live in Paris, 2002; released first album containing original songs, The Girl in the Other Room, 2004.

Awards: Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for When I Look in Your Eyes, 1999; Juno Award for Artist of the Year, Juno Awards, Album of the Year and Best Vocal Jazz Album of the Year, for When I Look in Your Eyes, 2002; International Musician of the Year, National Jazz Awards, 2004.

Addresses: Record company—Verve Music Group, 1755 Broadway, New York, NY 10019. Management—Macklam Feldman Management Inc, 1505 West 2nd Ave., Ste. 200, Vancouver BC V6H-3Y4 Canada. Website—Diana Krall Official Website: http://www.dianakrall.com.

Thus, with her parents' blessing, Hamilton encouraged Krall to move to Los Angeles to study, and she earned a grant from the Canada Arts Council to do so. There, she first studied with Alan Broadbent, but she found her most important influence and teacher in pianist Jimmy Rowles (1918-1996), who played with singers such as Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee. The first time Krall went over to his house to meet him, she ended up spending most of the day. He conducted informal lessons and told Krall old stories about Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and other jazz legends. "It was just as important to me to hang out and listen to stories as it was to practice and play," Krall told Lees. "He'd play for me, and then I'd play for him. But most of the time was spent with me listening to him play. And we'd listen to records. We'd listen to Ben Webster, Duke Ellington." Furthermore, Rowles, also a singer noted for his passionate, stylish vocals, pressed Krall to develop her voice.

With Rowles's encouragement, and because she realized she would earn more opportunities to play if she sang, Krall conceded and started performing in Los Angeles piano bars. Three years later, she moved to Toronto, then to New York in 1990, where she studied with Mike Renzi and for awhile commuted to Boston to work with a jazz trio.

"Stepped Out" with Her Debut Album

By now, critics, jazz fans, and record labels were taking note of Krall's soulful voice and confident piano skills. In 1993, she released her debut album on the Canadian label Justin Time entitled Steppin' Out, a forceful trio work with bassist John Clayton and friend Hamilton on drums. Following her debut, the record company GRP, one of North America's foremost jazz labels, signed Krall, and she released her second album in 1995. Her former mentor Brown also appeared with fellow bassist Christian McBride for the record entitled Only Trust Your Heart. In addition, tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine contributed to the recording as a special guest, adding more variety to the ensemble.

After a Canadian summer jazz-festival tour with guitarist Russell Malone and bassist Paul Keller in 1995, Krall made her next album, 1996's All For You, a tribute to jazz great Nat King Cole. Again, Krall illustrated the way in which she allows her music to breathe and encourages musical conversation within her band. "Alternately happy-go-lucky and smokey, All For You features Krall's single-malt vocals and accomplished piano playing (backed by guitar and acoustic bass) on a collection of mainly lesser-known standards (the classic jazz repertoire of songs written by the great Broadway show tune composers of the 1930s and '40s). A highlight: 'Frim Fram Sauce,' a novelty tune recorded by Cole in 1945," commented Hayes. The album, nominated for a Grammy award that year, topped the jazz charts in the United States for over two years and broke sales records (for a jazz recording) around the world. Jazz artists, especially newcomers, rarely see their albums appeal to such a wide audience.

Krall's next release in 1997, Love Scenes, further exemplified her continuing maturity and her band's cohesiveness with a more relaxed tone than her previous albums. Joined by Malone and McBride, the record built upon jazz standards of artists such as Irving Berlin, Harry Warren, Percy Mayfield, and George and Ira Gershwin. This release was also nominated for a Grammy award.

Then in 1998, Krall released a collection of favorite Christmas songs entitled Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. This year also saw Krall's popularity skyrocket, aided by her hit single, a Fats Waller tune called "Peel Me a Grape." She appeared on two episodes of the Fox network's Melrose Place, accompanied pop singer Celine Dione on her Christmas album, recorded a duet with alternative artist Sarah McLachlan, and joined McLachlan and a host of other female musicians for the Lilith Fair concert. Krall told Steve Dollar of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution regarding her playing Lilith Fair, "It was wonderful to hear teenage girls (yell for) 'Peel Me a Grape' and 'Go Russell!' I was sitting at the press conference with these women (Sarah McLachlan and others), going, 'Oh my God, these people are just as serious about what they do as we are.'"

Krall followed these successes with 1999's When I Look In Your Eyes, this time on the Verve label. John Ephland of Down Beat magazine noted that like her prior releases, Krall's most recent album continued her focus on "sultry standards, bouncin' swingers, a contemporary tune thrown in for fun." Other musicians featured for the album included Malone, Ben Wolfe and Clayton sharing duties on bass, Hamilton, Lewis Nash on drums, and Larry Bunker on vibes. The noted orchestrater Johnny Mandel also worked with Krall for When I Look In Your Eyes as director. The album won Krall the 1999 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance.

Krall followed When I Look in Your Eyes with The Book of Love in 2001, and this album won the singer no less than three Juno Awards (Canada's highest music honors) in 2002—those for Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best Vocal Jazz Album of the Year.

The year 2002 was one of the most eventful of Krall's life, full of joy and sorrow in equal measure; that year she won the Grammy, but also lost her mother (to cancer), as well as two of her closest friends, Ray Brown and singer Rosemary Clooney. She also met rock star Elvis Costello. The two began a partnership that culminated in their marriage in 2003, and an album, The Girl in the Other Room, in 2004. This album is Krall's first to feature original material—pieces she co-wrote with Costello. "I wrote the music," Krall explained to Ashante Infantry in the Toronto Star, "and then Elvis and I talked about what we wanted to say. I told him stories and wrote pages and pages of reminiscences, descriptions and images and he put them into tighter lyrical form." The album quickly became Krall's best-selling album to date.

To those critics who accuse Krall of "going pop," the talented musician told Dollar, "I'm not out to please the jazz police, nor am I out just to win an audience. I'm just out to make the kind of record that I would love to put on and listen to."

Selected discography

Steppin' Out, Justin Time, 1993.

Only Trust Your Heart, Verve, 1994.

All for You, Impulse, 1995.

Love Scenes, Verve, 1997.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Impulse, 1998.

When I Look In Your Eyes, Verve, 1999.

The Book of Love, Verve, 2001.

Live in Paris, Verve, 2002.

The Girl in the Other Room, Verve, 2004.

Sources

Books

Swenson, John, editor, Rolling Stone Jazz and Blues Album Guide, Random House, 1999.

Periodicals

Atlanta Journal and Constitution, December 6, 1998, p. L01.

Chatelaine, September 1, 1997, pp. 52-55.

Down Beat, September 1999, p. 52.

Edmonton Sun, June 9, 1999, p. 11.

Gannett News Service, March 8, 1999.

Globe and Mail, February 25, 2004.

Independent on Sunday, November 8, 1998, p. 10.

Jazz Times, September 1999, pp. 34-39.

London Free Press, November 21, 1998, p. C5.

Minneapolis Star Tribune, October 30, 1996, p. 04B.

Newsday, August 7, 1996, p. B07.

Newsweek, June 14, 1999, p. 68.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 27, 1993, p. 08D; March 17, 1995, p. 08E; September 19, 1995, p. 03E; March 8, 1998, p. D8; March 13, 1998, p. E4

Toronto Star, May 2, 2004, p. D4.

Washington Post, July 2, 2004, p. T6.

Washington Times, August 26, 1999, p. C16.

Online

"Diana Krall," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (July 7, 2004).

—Laura Hightower andMichael Belfiore

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Krall, Diana

DIANA KRALL

Born: Nanaimo, British Columbia, 16 November 1964

Genre: Jazz, Pop

Best-selling album since 1990: The Look of Love (2001)

Hit songs since 1990: "When I Look in Your Eyes," "The Look of Love"


Smoky-voiced singer and pianist Diana Krall captured the admiration of the jazz world in the 1990s, earning praise from critics and musicians before casting her sights on a mainstream pop audience. By the end of the decade she had become contemporary jazz's most successful crossover artist, recording the multimillion-selling album When I Look in Your Eyes (1999). While it would be easy to explain her appeal on the basis of sultry good looks, Krall is a gifted musician with the ability to create a mood so intimate that it often feels like private conversation. Her quiet husky voice is no match for the deft, whimsical quality of her playing, but on her best recordings voice and piano merge in a warm, inviting style completely her own.

Raised in British Columbia, Krall's early appreciation for music came through the influence of her father, an avid record collector who also played piano. Enrolling in piano lessons by the age of four and performing professionally at fifteen, Krall was influenced by the swinging, flexible style of great 1920s and 1930s pianist Fats Waller. In the early 1980s she attended California's prestigious Berklee College of Music on a scholarship, then moved to Los Angeles where she studied under the tutelage of master pianist Jimmy Rowles. Rowles, famed for his sensitive accompaniment behind the greatest twentieth-century jazz vocalists, encouraged Krall to sing while playing, although the shy performer initially demurred. Moving to New York in 1990, Krall released her first album for a small label in 1993 and a year later signed with GRP Records, a well-known company in the jazz genre. In 1995 she released All for You, an acclaimed tribute to legendary vocalist and pianist Nat "King" Cole. Recorded with simple accompaniment of guitar, piano, and bass, the album garnered positive reviews for its charming, laid-back ambience. Krall informs the album with her winning musical personality, performing rapid, dexterous piano runs on "I'm an Errand Girl for Rhythm" and singing the nonsense lyrics of "Frim Fram Sauce" with just the right amount of humor. While proficient on ballads, critics note that Krall really shines on up-tempo numbers, where her snappy, engaging playing and easygoing vocals fall into an infectious groove.

In an effort to reach a wider pop audience, Krall began to sing more and play less as the 1990s progressed. The effort paid off: When I Look in Your Eyes (1999), an album built largely around Krall's vocals, made a sizable impact on the pop charts and won the music industry's Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. Compared to veteran jazz vocalist Carole Sloane's breathtaking 1994 rendition, however, critics found Krall's performance of the title track lacking in sufficient depth, and her vocal style too even-keeled and mellow to make ballads such as "Let's Face the Music and Dance" sound interesting. She is impressive on the faster songs, however, using her piano to lead "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" through multiple tempo shifts. On the insouciant "Devil May Care" and "Let's Fall in Love" she displays an acute sense of rhythm and swing.

By the late 1990s, Krall was a ubiquitous presence on soundtracks for television programs and films, her easy-on-the-ears style leading the Calgary Sun to crown her in 2001, rather sardonically, "the reigning queen of soft jazz." Krall's next album, The Look of Love (2001) features a sexy cover photograph, large orchestral arrangements, and even less of her distinctive piano playing. Buoyed by savvy marketing it became Krall's most commercially successful release, reaching the Top 10 of the pop album charts. In 2002 she released Live in Paris, a restrained, well-structured set showcasing her almost hypnotic power over an audience. While Krall is in fine form throughout, critics make special note of the album's biggest surprise: an emotive version of rock and folk singer Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You." Here, it has been observed that Krall exhibits a more evolved sense of vocal dynamics, the power in her voice bearing a new urgency. While her past vocal performances have resembled the hushed, breathy sound of 1950s singer Julie London, on "A Case of You" Krall sings harder and louder, suggesting that she has been holding much in reserve.

Diana Krall carried 1990s jazz music into the mainstream, giving it a degree of popular acceptance not seen in decades. Although critics note her talent is best showcased on up-tempo songs, which she performs with a carefree sense of play, she has found great commercial success through her ballad performances. On her finest recordings, she conveys excitement and vitality through the sincere warmth of her sound.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Steppin' Out (Justin Time, 1993); Only Trust Your Heart (GRP, 1994); All for You (Impulse!, 1995); Love Scenes (Impulse!, 1997); When I Look in Your Eyes (GRP, 1999); The Look of Love (Verve, 2001); Live in Paris (Verve, 2002). Soundtracks: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Warner Bros., 1997); Melrose Place Jazz: Upstairs at MP (Windham Hill, 1998); Kissing Jessica Stein (Verve, 2002).

WEBSITE:

www.dianakrall.com.

david freeland

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Krall, Diana

Diana Krall

Singer, piano

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Often referred to as the glamour girl of jazz for her stunning appearance, Canadian jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall became the toast of the international jazz scene, as well as to more mainstream audiences, during the mid-1990s. Whenever anyone who would be considered a jazz musician hits in this way, its a little bit of a strange alchemy that we cant figure out, editor-in-chief of Jazziz magazine Larry Blumfield told reporter Steve Dollar of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. In the terms of her appearance and the way she uses jazz tradition, shes more accessible to a broader audience than a lot of other artists are, without necessarily dumbing things down. One thing that really works in her favor is shes able to straddle that fence between what a real jazz fan wants and what a popular audience needs. Moreover, the tall musician with long, straight blond hair and green eyes proved that her artistry, rather than her looks, led her to attract fans from around the world. The New York Times called her a superb jazz pianist and an even better singer, as quoted by David Hayes in Chatelaine, although she would humbly describe her piano technique as limited and never thought she had a good voice. Once when she was nine years old, she tried out for a local youth choir and was rejected because the teacher thought her voice was too low. Chastened by the rejection, she rarely sang in public until more than a decade later. In spite of this, Krall would later draw attention as much for her sultry singing as for her accomplished piano playing. Kralls style is a Canadian accent with excellent time and a voice that is inherently lovely, remarked Gene Lees in Jazz Times. A modest yet commanding performer, Krall plays mostly her own interpretations of the old jazz standards accompanied by her relaxed, intimate singing style.

Despite Kralls undeniable talent as a serious pianist and singer, her success drew attack from some jazz critics and fans who accused her of selling out to the popular culture (In 1998, she appeared on two episodes of televisions Melrose Place playing herself as a performer at a local bar and toured with Sarah McLachlans all-female Lillith Fair concert.) Too many jazz fans dont want anyone else to like it, and when someone breaks into huge sales, the only-l-understand this music group draws its snickersnees commented Lees. And Krall herself felt somewhat uneasy about her sudden fame. Well, Im shy. And Im embarrassed, she admitted to Lees. I feel like that when I walk out on stage and everybody claps. When we finish a show and people give me a standing ovation, I feel like saying, No, its okay, sit down and dont bother. Im not comfortable with it. I love to make people happy but Im not comfortable with that. Furthermore, Krall, who never wanted to rise to the top of jazz and who just wanted to play the piano, found that standing in the limelight included its draw-

For the Record

Born November 16, 1964, in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada; daughter of an accountant father and teacher, librarian mother; one sister. Education: Attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA; also studied with Alan Broadbent, Mike Renzi, and Jimmy Rowles.

Began playing piano in local bars at age 15; earned scholarship at age 17 to Berklee College of Music; attended jazz camp in Port Townsend, WA; discovered by drummer Jeff Hamilton and legendary bassist Ray Brown, earned grant from Canada Arts Council to study in Los Angeles with Broadbent and Rowles, 1983; moved to New York City to study under Renzi, joined jazz trio in Boston, 1990; released first album, Stepping Out, 1993; released All For You, a tribute album to Nat King Cole; released Love Scenes, 1997; toured with Lillith Fair concert, 1998; released WhenlLookln Your Eyes, 1999.

Addresses: Home New York City, NY. Record company Verve Music Group (distributes Verve, GRP, and Impulse), 555 W. 57th St., New York City, NY 10019. Website http://www.vervemusicgroup.com.

backs, adding, I think I put a lot of pressure on myself where it isnt necessary. Im trying to handle it. Im happy for my success, and Im trying to enjoy it.

Diana Krall was born on November 16, 1964, in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, a town located west of Vancouver across the Strait of Georgia on Vancouver Island. As a child, Krall, the oldest of two daughters (her sister later became a police officer in Nanaimo), enjoyed a home always filled with music. Her father, an accountant, accumulated over the years an enormous record and sheet music collection and Kralls mother Adella, an elementary school teacher andlibrarian who later earned a masters degree in educational administration, played the piano and sang. Both parents loved music and old television and radio shows. In addition, the future jazz musicians great, great aunt performed in Vaudeville in New York City. I couldnt have had more supportive parents, Krall related to Lees. The most important thing for me is my family. Nevertheless, Kralls parents at first held other hopes for their daughters future. When one of her piano teachers told her mother that Krall possessed the potential to play jazz or pop music as a professional, Kralls mother recalled to Hayes,I just smiled and thought, well, thats nice of her to say but Dianas going to university. I didnt want her playing in bars. I didnt have much regard for music as a career.

In many ways, though, Krall experienced a typical middle-class, small-town upbringing. She spent summers at the beach and winters on the ski slopes, listened to rock stars like Peter Frampton and the group Super-tramp, and held dreams of exploring space as an astronaut, building model rockets with friend BobThirsk. (While Krall never made it to Canadas space program, Thirskdid,andheeventookoneofherCDsonthespace shuttle with him.) However, Krall, who began playing the piano at age four, was also drawn to the music handed down from her fathers record collection, including recordings of Fats Waller and Bing Crosby. She started taking piano lessons and singing with her grandmother, on her fathers side; Krall said she sounds a lot like her as an adult with her low, sultry voice. Every day after school, she would go to her grandmothers house to play piano and sing, but Krall would never sing at home because she never thought she had a good enough voice. By 15, she played in a local bar and restaurant, singing as little as possible. At age 17, she won a scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She studied in Boston for 18 months before returning to Nanaimo.

Kralls big break came two years later in 1983, when her parents sent her to jazz camp in Port Townsend, Washington. Through the camp director, Bud Shank, she met several of her future friends, including drummer Jeff Hamilton, a member of an influential west coast jazz quartet called the L.A. 4. A few weeks later, when his quartet was playing a show in Kralls hometown, Hamilton brought legendary jazz bassist Ray Brown (the first husband of singer Ella Fitzgerald who Krall would later record with) to hear her perform at a bar down the street. Like Hamilton, Brown was impressed by the young pianists talent. During their stay in Nanaimo, she invited the two musicians to her familys home for dinner, and Hamilton convinced Kralls mother that her daughter could make it in jazz. Although her mother had previously disapproved of Krall pursuing a career in jazz, an industry often known for disappointments and drug use, she changed her mind after spending time with Hamilton and Brown. She remembered thinking,These musicians have distinguished careers. Theyre pretty real people, as she told Hayes.

Thus, with her parents blessing, Hamilton encouraged Krall to move to Los Angeles to study, and she earned a grant from the Canada Arts Council to do so. There, she first studied with Alan Broadbent, but she found her most important influence and teacher in pianist Jimmy Rowles (1918-1996), who played with singers such as Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee. The first time Krall went over to his house to meet him, she ended up spending most of the day. He conducted .informal lessons and told Krall old stories about Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and other jazz legends. It was just as important to me to hang out and listen to stories as it was to practice andplay, Krall told Lees. Hed play for me, and then Id play for him. But most of the time was spent with me listening to him play. And wed listen to records. Wed listen to Ben Webster, Duke Ellington. Furthermore, Rowles, also a singer noted for his passionate, stylish vocals, pressed Krall to develop her voice. With his encouragement, and because she realized she would earn more opportunities to play if she sang, Krall conceded and started performing in Los Angeles piano bars. Three years later, she moved to Toronto, then to New York in 1990, where she studied with Mike Renzi and for awhile commuted to Boston to work with a jazz trio.

By now, critics, jazz fans, and record labels were taking note of Kralls soulful voice and confident piano skills. In 1993, she released her debut album on the Canadian label Justin Time entitled Stepping Out, a forceful trio work with bassist John Clayton and friend Hamilton on drums. Following her debut, the record company GRP, one of North Americas foremost jazz labels, signed Krall, and she released her second album in 1995. Her former mentor Brown also appeared with fellow bassist Christian McBride for the record entitled Only Trust Your Heart. In addition, tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine contributed to the recording as a special guest, adding more variety to the ensemble.

After a Canadian summer jazz-festival tour with guitarist Russel Malone and bassist Paul Keller in 1995, Krall made her next album, 1996s All For You, a tribute to jazz great Nat King Cole. Again, Krall illustrated the way in which she allows her music to breathe and encourages musical conversation within her band. Alternately happy-go-lucky and smokey, All For You features Kralls single-malt vocals and accomplished piano playing (backed by guitar and acoustic bass) on a collection of mainly lesser-known standards (the classic jazz repertoire of songs written by the great Broadway show tune composers of the 1930s and 40s). A high-light: Frim Fram Sauce, a novelty tune recorded by Cole in 1945, commented Hayes. The album, nominated for a G rammy award that year, topped the jazz charts in the United States for over two years and broke sales records (for a jazz recording) around the world. Jazz artists, especially newcomers, rarely see their albums appeal to such a wide audience.

Kralls next release in 1997, Love Scenes, further exemplified her continuing maturity and her bands cohesiveness with a more relaxed tone than her previous albums. Joined by Malone and McBride, the record built upon jazz standards of artists such as Irving Berlin, Harry Warren, Percy Mayfield, and George and Ira Gershwin. This release was also nominated for a Grammy award. Then in 1998, Krall released a collection of favorite Christmas songs entitled Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. This year also saw Kralls popularity skyrocket, aided by her hit single, a Fats Waller tune called Peel Me a Grape. She appeared on two episodes of the Fox networks Melrose Place, accompanied pop singer Celine Dione on her Christmas album, recorded a duet with alternative artist Sarah McLachlan, and joined McLachlan and a host of other female musicians for the Lillith Fair concert. Krall told Dollar, regarding her playing Lillith Fair,It was wonderful to hear teenage girls (yell for) Peel Me a Grape and Go Russell! I was sitting at the press conference with these women (Sarah McLachlan and others), going, Oh my God, these people are just as serious about what they do as we are.

Krall followed these successes with 1999s When I Look In Your Eyes, this time on the Verve label. John Ephland of Down Beat magazine noted that like her prior releases, Kralls most recentalbum continued her focus on sultry standards, bouncinswingers, acontemporarytunethrown in for fun. Other musicians featured for the album included Malone, Ben Wolfe and Clayton sharing duties on bass, Hamilton, Lewis Nash on drums, and Larry Bunker on vibes. The noted orchestrater Johnny Mandel also worked with Krall for When I Look In Your Eyes as director.

Krall now lives in New York City and continues to focus on her jazz career, keeping an apartment in Manhattans Union Square neighborhood. Because herfamily always remains central to Kralls life, she travels back to her hometown in Canada to visit about once a month. Krall, a pianist and singer who mainly reinterprets the music of the past, says she only writes her own music when she feels she has something to say. Instead, the jazz artist finds creative fulfillment in taking an old standard and arranging it and performing with her own style. To those critics who accuse Krall of going pop, the talented musician told Dollar,Im not out to please the jazz police, nor am I out just to win an audience. Im just out to make the kind of record that I would love to put on and listen to.

Selected discography

Stepping Out, Justin Time, 1993.

Only Trust Your Heart, GRP, 1995.

All for You, Impulse, 1996.

Love Scenes, Impulse, 1997.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Impulse, 1998.

When I Look In Your Eyes, Verve, 1999.

Sources

Books

Swenson, John, editor, Rolling Stone Jazz and Blues Album Guide, Random House, 1999.

Periodicals

Atlanta Journal and Constitution, December 6, 1998, p. L01. Chatelaine, September 1, 1997, pp. 52-55.

Down Beat, September 1999, p. 52.

Edmonton Sun, June 9, 1999, p. 11.

Gannett News Service, March 8, 1999.

Independent on Sunday, November 8, 1998, p. 10.

Jazz Times, September 1999, pp. 34-39.

London Free Press, November 21, 1998, p. C5.

Minneapolis Star Tribune, October 30, 1996, p. 04B.

Newsday, August 7, 1996, p. B07.

Newsweek, June 14, 1999, p. 68.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 27, 1993, p. 08D; March 17, 1995, p. 08E; September 19, 1995, p. 03E; March 8, 1998, p. D8; March 13, 1998, p. E4

Washington Times, August 26, 1999, p. C16.

Laura Hightower

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