Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Little Jewels of Perfection 5: Dancing in the Dark by Diana Krall

This track from Canadian singer/pianist Diana Krall is pretty much a theme tune for Agent Triple P and his particular friend S from Vancouver.  Whenever he goes to stay in S's luxurious penthouse apartment overlooking the harbour she always makes sure that this is playing. 

So just listening to it transports us across the planet to the sight of sparkling lights over water as the sun sets, the taste of Laurent Perrier rose brut, the smell of Chanel No 5 and the sound of rustling La Perla.

S's apartment is just visible in this picture!

Given this, any critical response to this track, and indeed the rest of the album from which it comes is somewhat difficult!  

This, her sixth album, was Krall's crossover success and, as is often the case when an artist breaks out of their niche to popular acclaim, the critics laid into her.  They derided her record company's attempt to make her look like a sex symbol on the album cover.  They sneered at the lush orchestral accompaniment (by the London Symphony Orchestra).  It's not jazz, it's background music, thy said.  Yes, but very superior background music indeed!

It sold in huge numbers; 1.6 million copies in the US alone and 700,000 copies in her native Canada (she is from Vancouver!)  It also won a Grammy for Best engineered album, non-classical in 2001. Billboard ranked it as the number 5 jazz album of the decade.

In Dancing in the Dark Christian McBride's bass kicks things off as Claus Ogerman's orchestration starts with flutes before bringing in the strings.  Just before halfway Krall contibutes a delicate piano solo that is so laid back that it is almost horizontal.  For the last one minute and fifty of the track Krall doesn't sing at all.  The bossa nova rhythm section drives along whilst the strings do magical things over the top.  Utter brilliance and the stand out track on an excellent and slinkily romantic album.

Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse dance to Dancing in the dark in The Bandwagon (1953)

The song Dancing in the Dark was written for the 1931 musical revue The Band Wagon.  It was composed by Arthur Schwartz with lyrics by Howard Dietz.  The show was already in rehearsal when the producers reckoned they needed another darker number.  The song was written in just one day. In the 1953 film version Conrad Salinger orchestrated a lush version for a dance between Fred Astaire (who had danced in the original 1931 revue) and Cyd Charisse.  Many artists have recorded it over the years; notably Artie Shaw and Bing Crosby who both had hits with their versions. More recently Jane Monheit's recording was nominated for a Grammy in 2004.

Lyrics (Diana Krall version)

Dancing in the dark 'til the tune ends

We're dancing in the dark and it soon ends
We're waltzing in the wonder of why we're here
Time hurries by, we're here and we're gone

Looking for the light of a new love
To brighten up the night, I have you love
And we can face the music together
Dancing in the dark

Looking for the light of a new love
To brighten up the night, I have you love
And we can face the music together
Dancing in the dark, dancing in the dark.

Now, when's the next flight to Vancouver?

Labels: ,