Monday, June 01, 2009

Sighing Di (One Note Samba)

Several years ago after hearing her version of Nat Cole's "Frim Fram Sauce", I bought Diana Krall's "All For You" ... which is an excellent album I'd recommend for anyone's collection. So I got "Steppin' Out", "Only Trust Your Heart", "Love Scenes", and "When I Look In Your Eyes" ... all with some nice piano trio work that worked well with her vocals.

Since I liked all the others, when "The Look of Love" came ought I bought it, too. Besides, the cover of that album flat sizzles, ifyaknowhatimean. Ouch!

With this album more than any other to that point, though, she went more to orchestration and away from the piano trio format -- which is where she shines (with the later, not the former). But it'll hold a special place in my collection and get played with the first four, which is probably a tribute to the brilliant marketer who had her pose just so in that black dress and those heels.

Since then she's gone mainly to torch songs and Jobim sambas. Great material, to be sure. And I'm as big a Jobim fan as anyone. It worked well with the Christmas album, "Christmas Songs" which is a perennial in my collection. But even on that her vocals had a jazzier spark to them on several of the tracks even if she was away from piano central. Ok, and the green dress and heels didn't hurt, either. Same marketer, I presume.

But with each new album, Christmas album aside, I've been hoping she'd go back to the trio format. She's a good jazz musician. This arranged stuff boxes her in. And she has a pleasant voice ... I mean, I like it. It's better when she's belting a song than it is when she's sighing one. That works for Astrud Gilberto. But not everyone is Astrud. It's just not bringing anything interesting to the material in this format.

And so it was with "Quiet Nights", which just came out a couple of months ago. I was again hoping she'd be tickling the keys and leaning into the piano with some of the old gusto... but no. This has got to be the breathiest, most arranged album to date. Pleasant background dinner music, to be sure. But a far cry from her early work.

Maybe this is what's in demand and it's how she can rake in the big money, which is totally understandable. Or maybe this is really what she wants to do... which would be totally understandable as well. But it isn't lighting a fire under my rear to go out and buy any more Diana Krall. Me, personally. I've never been one of those fans who has the audacity to tell an artist what they should do. I'm just personally disappointed. Still, I have the early albums to listen to, and my collection is richer for it.

Pssst. Diana! Your piano chops are what sets you apart.

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