Diana Krall, revered by critics and consumers alike as one of today’s preeminent jazz singers, returns Sept. 18 with “The Look of Love” — a Verve release that strives to broaden her creative palette to include torch songs.
The hazy, melancholy collection of ballads showcases a mature stylist who is blessed with superlative material and deft collaborators — most notably her longtime producer, Verve Music Group (U.S.) chairman Tommy LiPuma, and German arranger/conductor/composer Claus Ogerman.
“I put my trust in Claus,” the 36-year-old Krall says. “I knew he’d write the right arrangements. Tommy always brings out the best in me.”
Krall’s previous album, 1999’s “When I Look in Your Eyes,” was her first for Verve. The album sold 987,000 copies in the U.S., according to SoundScan. The label reports that it sold an additional 1 million units abroad, including 300,000 units in Canada. Among its honors was a Grammy award for best jazz vocal performance, female.
A worldwide launch of “The Look of Love” begins Sept. 19 with Krall performing with an orchestra at Toronto’s historic Union Station. A 14-date Canadian tour kicks off Oct. 5 in her hometown of Nanaimo, British Columbia.
Preparing for her sixth album, which features such pop standards as “S’Wonderful,” “I Remember You,” “Maybe You’ll Be There” and the Burt Bacharach/Hal David title track, Krall first played some recordings she treasured one night at her New York apartment. Among them were Nat King Cole’s “Love Letters” and Julie London’s “Cry Me a River,” which she has also recorded.
She told LiPuma it would be marvelous to work with Ogerman, acclaimed for his arrangement work with George Benson (whom LiPuma has produced), Barbra Streisand, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Astrud Gilberto, and Joao Gilberto. When Krall was in Munich last year, LiPuma arranged for the two to meet.
The “Look of Love” fondly recalls Frank Sinatra’s hipster/swinger era with Capitol Records from 1953 to 1959, when he worked with such arranger/producers as Nelson Riddle, Billy May, and Gordon Jenkins. Actually, many of the tunes were recorded by Sinatra.
“This album isn’t a tribute to Sinatra,” Krall stresses. “Everything I do [as a performer] is a tribute to Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Carmen McCrae, and [pianist] Jimmy Rowles. But, when we were listening to a playback of ‘I Get Along Without You Very Well,’ Claus, with his dry wit, said, ‘We have to sock it to Nelson.’ He’s 70, and he wanted [us] to pay our respects to Nelson Riddle.”
Sessions for the album began with Krall and her quartet recording at the Avatar Studios in New York in January. This was followed by March sessions with the London Symphony Orchestra at studio two of Abbey Road Studios in London, once home to the Beatles. Several tracks were later recorded with a studio orchestra at Capitol Studios in Hollywood.
“It was emotional being at Abbey Road because of its historical significance,” Krall says. “Walking down that hallway into Capitol with photos of Keely Smith, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, John Coltrane, and Frank Sinatra was also very inspiring.”
Says Verve Music Group president Ron Goldstein, “Diana has grown a lot in the past two years. Her confidence has soared, and you can hear it in her voice.”
Krall agrees: “My glasses are very rosy right now. [Veteran arranger] Johnny Mandel called to say he loves the record. I have a wonderful boyfriend and family. I’m very lucky.”