By Mike Zwerin
10 June 2002 - Diana Krall is photogenic and she knows it.
Twelve-count-em-12 photos of herself grace the cover of her album "When
I look In your Eyes" (Verve). "I wish I really looked like
that," she says about the album's emblem cover shot, in which she
looks like a fashion model in flight - her head flung back streaming
blonde hair behind and a carefree smile on her face. She thinks she
looks "wrecked" in person from working too hard.
the up-escalator in the department store Printemps, she passed floor
upon floor with walls covered by poster-size full-color reproductions
of the album cover. It was like Printemps was having a sale of Diana
Krall wallpaper. She says she felt "embarrassed" by her
image being all over the store, which was sponsoring a showcase
performance in their small hall on top. Still, there it was. And the
use of her beauty to promote her voice has since become more
exploitive. However, this is about music.
Photo: Bruce Weber
best thing, she says, about her increasing success as a vocalist is "the
pleasure it gives my parents." They were riding up the Printemps
escalator with her. Meeting them in Paris, their first time in the
city, was so important to her that she didn't really feel like talking
about much else. Every day with them has been "party time"
since her mother recovered from a bone-marrow transplant a few years
ago: "My mom's jaw dropped open when she saw all of those
posters. I was so pleased."
Such terms as "big-time"
and "big star" embarrass Krall, although they are
increasingly apt. The only difference between then and now, she says,
is being able to afford a hotel room with enough floor space to open
up her suitcases (she travels heavy). It is nevertheless true that
their nature - both the rooms and the suitcases - has also improved.
Her 1997 album "Love Scenes" sold over 600,000 copies in
North America, plus more than 100,000 in Europe and Japan.
she describes as "high maintenance" comes with the territory
when you are a constantly traveling woman with a high profile and
sexuality to protect. A skin allergy led her to become a "cosmetics
junkie" as part of her continuing search for "the perfect
cream." Management's standard fax to hotels goes: "Diana
Krall is allergic to fabric softener and feather pillows..." One
hotel in Beverly Hills provides personal lotion in a bottle with her
name on it. At home, she finds herself missing room service.
the extent of her success is extraordinary for jazz, one thing about
Krall is that her records do not obviously belong in jazz bins. She
has been called "a young Peggy Lee," and "an alluring
Sharon Stone look-alike." Her persona is effortlessly
constructed, her time is laid back. She avoids the "jazzy"
vibrato and scat-singing episodes considered de rigeur by some female
singers who try perhaps a bit too hard to have a place inside hallowed
halls. She remains one of the most listenable singers around.
legendary eccentric master Jimmy Rowles - who for awhile taught
Marilyn Monroe how to sing - had, with the help of a Canadian Arts
Council grant, been Krall's piano teacher. (She plays her cute little
butt off.) He encouraged her to include singing in her performances.
Which led to more work and an eventual move to New York. Her delivery
can be compared to Nat "King" Cole. She accompanies herself
at the keyboard as part of a drumless guitar/bass trio like Cole's.
Her album "All For You" was an homage to him. With minimum
ego, she goes directly to the dramatic implications at the heart of a
song. That plus her personal, tasteful song selection and the
occasional hoarse edge around phrases reminds you of Frank Sinatra.
If more proof of stardom-rising was needed, the Cannes Film
Festival provided it. She sang the song "Why Should I Care?"
written (with Linda Thompson and Carole Bayer Sager) by Clint Eastwood
for his film "True Crime." Her record company took her to
Cannes to promote it. As she walked on the red carpet, paparazzi were
crying out for poses: "Diana, Diana." Just like a princess.
It was "like Cinderalla. I started to cry. I called my
mom on a cell phone. I called Clint." Eastwood directed her "like
an actor," correcting melodic phrases turned some unacceptable
new way: "We've known each other for a long time. He understands
what I do, I understand his approach. He's got a great ear. It's an
experience of a lifetime to work with a director like that."
Announcing the song on the Printemps stage, she prefaced the author's
name with "my friend."
Photo: Bruce Weber
had "a perfect childhood" in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island,
British Columbia, a two hour ferry ride from the city of Vancouver: "I
had everything a kid could want, including two trips to Disneyland.
Yep, two. My parents have this great relationship." Krall tries
to visit home once a month. Telling people about her family and how
close they all are, she's become accustomed to responses like, "Come
on. Nobody has a family like that. It all sounds too good to be true."
And she wonders: "Isn't it a shame that we live in such a
She's perfectly aware how corny it
sounds. But it's really very simple. She was given love and affection,
and now she's "making sure it goes around again. Which doesn't
mean we don't scream at each other. We're not a family out of Norman
Rockwell. We're pretty loose when we play cards." The night
before her showcase, while dining in a fancy Parisian restaurant, they
were "really whooping it up, being obnoxious tourists. My mother
told me to shut up. I used the f-word. 'Ssshhh,' she said,
'everybody's looking over here.' I'm on the road so much I've got a
mouth like a sailor."
Krall opened for Joshua Redman,
another photogenic young star, in Carnegie Hall: "That's all my
mother talks about now - Carnegie Hall. All my relatives are coming.
Last night I said 'if you mention Carnegie Hall just one more time I'm
going to freak-out.' My mom said, 'Okay, fine. In that case we won't
come at all, we'll just stay home.' Right. She doesn't even call it
Carnegie Hall any more. It's just 'C.H.' I guess I'm getting pretty
nervous about C.H. I'm going to have to practice."
Krall: When I Look in Your Eyes
Krall in concert:
7 July 2002:
Jazz Festival (Rumeli Castle Amphitheater)
14, 15, 16, July
2002: Sydney Opera House
24, 25 July 2002: Shanghai Center,
29 July 2002: HK Convention Center, Hong Kong
August 2002: Grand Hyatt, Taipei
10 August 2002: TBD- Beijing
15 August 2002: Humphey's, San Diego, California
2002: Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara, California
18, 19 August
2002: Villa Montalvo Center for the Arts, Saratoga, California
August 2002: Mann Music Center, Philadelphia
28, 29 August 2002:
Westbury Music Fair, Westbury, New York
31 August 2002:
Tanglewood, Lenox, Massachusetts
8 September 2002: CCH, Hamburg
9 September 2002: Opera, Rome
10 September 2002: Stadthalle,
Mike Zwerin has been jazz and rock
critic for the International Herald Tribune for the last twenty years.
He was also the European correspondent for The Village Voice. Zwerin
is currently writing a book called "Parisian Jazz Affair"
for Yale University Press and he is the jazz editor of