Swing your things to the jazziest jazz and the bluest blues over ten days of the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival.
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Singer and pianist DIANA KRALI. has looks as well as talent, but she is not about to let glamour divert her from her high musical ambitions.
Words: Kenny Mathieson
Jazz singers don’t always come from the kind of places you might expect. Diana Krall is a resident of Manhattan. square in the heart of jazz-land. but she was born and brought up in Nanaimo. British Columbia. a less likely stop on the jazz route-map. Her parents were big fans. though. and she grew up in a musical environment which spanned jazz to opera. and was performing in a local restaurant by the time she was fifteen.
Krall’s good looks have brought her a lot of admiring attention in the last couple of years (including a slot on Melrose Place. albeit in character as a jazz pianist). but she seems genuinely uninterested in being seduced by the trimmings which glamour can bring. Her rise to her present prominence was no overnight affair — she served a substantial apprenticeship before the spotlight began to turn her way in serious fashion. and she is insistent that the music remains her paramount concern.
‘What motivates me is how it feels to play music. and the connection between the musicians when we play. which is a very emotional one. and the response of the audience.’ explains Krall. ‘l‘m happy people enjoy what we do but each night is different and we try not to settle into something. Really. the only pressures I feel are the ones that I put on myself to be better at my art and to keep the music alive. You‘ve got to stay honest with the music and yourself.‘
Krall is that rarity. a jazz singer who is also an accomplished pianist. or maybe vice versa. Nat King Cole is an obvious touchstone in that regard. and the first of her two albums for Impulse. All Of You. paid tribute to Cole’s example. specifically in terms of ‘the influence that his approach had on pianists like Monty Alexander and Ahmad Jamal and their groups.’
Her most recent album. Love Scenes. is a fine showcase for both her vocal and pianistic talents (she
58 THELIST 23 Jul—6 Aug 1998
'What motivates me is how it feels to play music, and the connection between the musicians when we play, which is a very emotional one, and the response of the audience.’
Diana Krall: as gifted a pianist as vocalist
recorded two earlier discs for other labels. Steppin' Out and Only Trust Your Heart). which have been honed through a series of collaborations with eminent names like the great Ray Brown. Stanley Turrentine and the late Jimmy Rowles. as well as her regular bandstand partners like guitarist Russell Malone. The hard work is now paying off in album sales and increasingly prominent concert opportunities. but the object remains unchanged.
grow and learn from my peers and from the masters.‘ says Krall. ‘()pportunity pushes you. and it continues to be a growing experience — it’s these completely creative musical situations that move you forward.‘
While Krall makes her Scottish debut at the Queen’s Hall on the opening night of the Jazz 8.; Blues Festival. the expatriate American singer Stacey Kent has already featured in these parts. Now resident in London. where she married saxophonist Jim 'I‘omlinson. Kent recently released her second album. The Tender Trap (Candid). featuring the pianistic talents of our own David Newton. and takes a punchier. less refined approach to classic jazz material than Krall. Compare-and-contrast opportunities include a high-profile contribution to the Gershwin tribute in the Gala Concert (Wed 5). and a couple of slots at The Cotton Club (Thu 6).
Diane Krall appears at The Queen's Hall, Fri 31 Jul.
I Wayne Krantz Tron Tavern, Thu 6/Fri 7Aug.
The electric guitar trio is a format in which many sins are possible, and most of them are routinely committed. The Wayne Krantz Group are very much an exception — never bombastic, never flashy just for the sake of it, and rarely self-indulgent in showing off their considerable technical skills. The New York-based trio play very much as a unit, with Krantz’s guitar as lead voice within a continually shifting creative interaction, rather than simply soloist-plus-accompaniment structures.
'The current trio, with Tim LeFebvre
and Keith Carlock, is looser and funkier than before. The music we're playing now includes more group improvisation than ever before, which amounts to everyone composing together spontaneously much of the time,’ grins Krantz. ‘The guys have the ability to be very creative rhythmically, while still keeping the groove together, which is a difficult balance.‘
Krantz arrived in Scotland as something of an unknown back in 1994, and made a big impression with an original approach to jazz- fusion which circumvented the clichés of the power trio with real assurance and conviction. Others have thought so, too, and his last visit to these parts was as the lead guitarist with Steely Dan on their Glasgow trip last year
A Barney Kessel album sparked the Oregon-born guitarist’s interest in
jazz, and he picked up his first
important gig at Berklee College, with the D Sharp Group. Subsequent employers included the late Leni Stern, Michael and Randy Brecker,
5 Billy Cobham, Michael Formanek and ; the aforementioned Steely Dan, but ‘All of that has opened up my opportunities to ;
his own music is his main priority. 'The goal for me has always been to develop my own music, but I believe that finding your own voice is really about limitation - it’s not a matter of trying to take on everything, it's down to being something specific in as deep a way as you can.’ (Kenny Mathieson)
Wayne Krantz: finger-picking good
EDINBURGH JAZZ & BLUES FESTIVAL