One of the biggest names in jazz, Diana Krall, will be flying in to perform during the Spring of Culture Festival, her first performance in the Gulf. We check her out and tell you why this is one concert you shouldn’t miss
Time Out Bahrain staff
It is hard to remember the jazz scene before Diana Krall. Her voice is so classically jazz, it seems every song ever written, was written with her in mind. There was a time, in the late 1990s, when her voice became ubiquitous across the airwaves on several continents almost overnight: her rise to become a central figure in the jazz establishment was so rapid, it was easy to imagine she had always been there.
In terms of sales, in the album charts her records not only rose to the top in the UK, US, Canada and Australia, but her albums stayed there, sometimes for years. With a Grammy win for best Jazz Vocal Performance in 1999 (and another in 2002) she confirmed her place among the jazz greats of the new millennium. To date she is one of the bestselling jazz vocalists in history.
Born in British Columbia, Canada, Krall was nearly 30 when she released her first album, Stepping Out. In an era in which prepubescent chart toppers ruled, Krall’s age and experience was a welcome relief, even in jazz which has always been more adult than teen. A decade and a half of solid grind saw eight further studio albums, one live album and, in 2007, a greatest hits. The Look of Love, released in 2002, became Krall’s most successful album to date, hitting the top spot in the US and Canadian Jazz charts and going top ten in the Billboard 100.
Although Krall’s career was founded on interpreting some of the twentieth century greats (Burt Bacharach and Nat King Cole at first, before turning her attention on the entire repertoire of the twentieth century) her marriage to British music great Elvis Costello has resulted in a collaboration that has seen her recent albums comprised of new compositions. In a recent interview with CNN, she said, ‘I think that I look at interpreting the music of great American songwriters, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Sammy Con, Jimmy Van Heusen like a character interpreting a great play. So you have to believe in what you are singing about, but then you have the freedom to soar and play over the harmonies that these wonderful writers...songs like “My Funny Valentine” where if you listen to Miles Davis, or Chet Baker, which is very very different. So I found it a very creative, highly creative outlet for me, and I didn’t really feel it was my time to write. I didn’t want to start trying to rewrite Cole Porter or these Great American Standards that I was studying so hard. So...Elvis and I weren’t trying to do that we were just...we just started to write.’
Krall’s achievements seem to have done little for her apparently fragile confidence, something that comes across in the delicate beauty of her performances. She said, ‘I’m never confident about my abilities; that’s a constant battle. I think that’s what drives us, it’s the divine dissatisfaction. And when you have someone who loves you and who also loves you enough...that you trust who’s going to say, “You can do better” or “Don’t give up” or “Don’t throw it in the fire yet. Take it out of the burning embers and let’s keep working on it” or “Leave it alone and...just be, not analyze it too much.”’
That and her resolve to work tirelessly as a recording artist and a performer. Even with two-year-old twins and a successful marriage, she still spends most of the year on the road with a relentless touring schedule and a new album released approximately every two years. But with model looks and a vocal style that could easily transcend genres, why did she choose jazz? She clicked her fingers and replied, ‘Because of that. The indescribable swing feeling that you feel and when you listen to someone like Louis Armstrong or Oscar Peterson or Ray Brown, that’s how I feel, I just feel good, I just feel like I just want to be in it. Or I listen to Carmen McRae sing or Ella Fitzgerald or you know, people that I admire that I get a chance to work with, people that I work with...the band that I work with. I’m sitting on the stage with my drummer Carine Rickens, my bass player that I’m working with Robert Hurst and great artists, Anthony Wilson playing guitar and on the bench sometimes I don’t play anything at all I just listen.’ It is fair to say it will be most of Bahrain who will be listening when she flies in for one night only in March. Diana Krall will be performing at Arad Fort on the evening of Friday March 12. Tickets will go on sale from March 1. For up-to-date details of the concert and ticket price, head to www.springofculture.org or call the ticket hotline on 39 900 630. Alternatively, you can visit the Spring of Culture ticket and information booths in Seef Mall West Extension and Al Osra Supermarket in Saar.