Aidin Vaziri | Diana Krall returns to the classics on her latest album, “Turn Up the Quiet,” covering standards by the likes of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Nat King Cole. It’s the Canadian jazz singer’s last recording with producer Tommy LiPuma, who died at 80 in March after having worked on 11 of her releases, starting with 1995’s “Only Trust Your Heart.” Now 52, Krall is finding joy on the road, accompanied by her twin 10-year old sons, Dexter and Frank (her husband is the musician Elvis Costello). She spoke to us from a tour stop in Park City, Utah, ahead of her four dates in Northern California.
Q: I really appreciate this album. It’s almost like you knew we needed a balm for these turbulent times.
A: Well, I’m intuitive, I guess. The direction of the songs went to a positive place. The live show has become all about love. I’m singing “Blue Skies” and other hopeful things. That’s the point, for people to escape from things for an hour and a half or two hours. A lot of the songs I’m doing were written in turbulent times. You can interpret them in different ways.
Q: You didn’t pick overtly political songs or anything you could frame in 2017. But the songs you did pick and the way you perform them feels so right, right now.
A: I’m glad to hear you say that. I mean, I’m playing with so many incredible musicians right now. When we’re playing together, it’s so emotionally relaxed and direct and swinging. We’re having such a positive, beautiful, fun time. That’s what you want people to feel. We’re out there to create a feeling. I had the whole audience in Grand Rapids singing “L-O-V-E.”
Q: You spent 20 years working in hotels and bars before you broke through. Did your low-key stage show grow out of that experience?
A: I’m better just being the same person that sits across the dinner table from you. It’s different because I play the piano. I’m not standing out front in a sparkly dress. I have a sparkly skirt. Standing in front of a microphone isn’t what I’m comfortable doing. I just kind of play the piano and sing and create an intimate space.
Q: You had a difficult time before making this album. Where’s your head at now?
A: You know, I had some really personal issues in the last few years. My father died. I got really sick with pneumonia at the same time, in 2014. I feel like it’s taken me three years to get my strength back from that. So now I’m feeling stronger, physically and mentally. I’m not the only one. There’s so much sadness. But there’s somebody falling in love somewhere. People are still celebrating graduations or small big things. People are being born and dying. This is life.
Q: Your producer Tommy LiPuma died shortly after you completed the record. Is it difficult going out and promoting it without him?
A: That was so traumatic and upsetting. Now I’m moving through joyfully. We had such a ball making this record, and I hope it shows. It’s a really, really fun show. The musicians blow me away. Sometimes I forget to come in. I’m listening to them so intently that I forget my cues. I forget I’m in the band and think I’m in the audience.