Don’t get me wrong: I have tremendous respect for Diana Krall. She is the J.K. Rowling of jazz, a pied piper able to charm the masses without compromising her impeccably high standards. Still, even the most ardent fan must admit that Krall has, of late, been teetering on the precipice of toxic overexposure. Through no fault of her own (apart from the immense marketability of her talents), she’s become the darling of MOR stations and shopping-mall music programmers from coast to coast. One minute she’s hawking Buicks, the next she’s guesting on some high-profile TV hit, all the while serving as a one-woman cheering section for fellow artists, lending her consumer-friendly appeal to albums by everybody from Tony Bennett to Natalie Cole. Which is precisely why Live in Paris, recorded early last winter at the Olympia, is such a breath of fresh air.
I’m guessing that producer Tommy LiPuma, sage pulse-taker that he is, recognized it was high time for Krall to get back to basics. If so, 10 points for Tommy. Apart from the presence, on two of the album’s 11 tracks, of the syrupy but subdued Orchestre Symphonique Europeen, Live in Paris features the British Columbia beauty stripped bare, passion fully exposed, intensity cranked to 11. Raw, unplugged, pure. Krall 101.