I’m currently reading Ben Sidran‘s fascinating, behind-the-scenes biography of one of the most pivotal producers of the past decades, Tommy LiPuma. He has produced almost everybody from Miles Davis to George Benson, Barbra Streisand to the Manhattan Transfer, Rickie Lee Jones to Michael Franks. And he also produced Diana Krall who reflects: “Tommy was my best friend, my creative partner, my mentor, my confidant, and my producer for twenty-four years. As time goes on, I realize just how special he was.”
Mister LiPuma died in March 2017 at the age of 80. From sessions recorded in 2016 and 2017, a dozen tracks have now been released as “This Dream Of You”. You can still hear the prowess of LiPuma’s production work, as well as the impeccable engineer work of Al Schmitt. Diana’s signature, slightly husky voice is stilll there as well, but she sounds alarmingly cold on most of the tracks here I think. And some pieces seem to be too much for her. After listening to “That’s All”, there are clear lacks of security and a strange inconsistency in her phrasing. But the most difficult aspect here is her repertoire. Almost all of the tracks on offer have been recorded a million times and certainly a lot of times with much more conviction and style. “Autumn In New York”? That’s Rosemary Clooney. “That’s All”? Sarah Vaughan. “Don’t Smoke In Bed”? Holly Cole. The list goes on.
Sure, the instrumentation is flawless, with the adorable Alan Broadbent on piano, Christian McBride on bass, Jeff Hamilton on drums plus Anthony Wilson and Russell Malone and Marc Ribot on guitar, among others. And there are some great moements, like her enthralling interpretation of “How Deep Is The Ocean” or the pretty cool mix of “That’s All” with “Azure-Te” (the latter of which was sublimely recorded by Karrin Allyson). But a cultivated ennui overshadows this set. The title track, Bob Dylan’s “This Dream Of You”, comes along as a dapper lullaby and the album closer, “Singing In The Rain”, demonstrates Diana’s awkward way of aspirating certain words instead of simply singing them which really deprives her of telling a story seriously, truthfully.