Krall Space

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To fully understand Diana Krall’s latest album, “Wallflower,” a person may have to be exactly 50 years old.

Krall turned 50 last November and I will turn 50 in September.

Some fans and critics have been a little bewildered by the album, which consists of fairly straightforward renditions (Krall doesn’t want them described as cover tunes) of pop hits from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.

Krall, ostensibly a jazz pianist and chanteuse, doesn’t even play piano on the record.

She’ll visit the Embassy Theatre, piano in tow, on August 4.

A music-loving person who came of age in the mid-to-late 20th century got most of his or her music from the radio.

Songs we heard on the radio as kids, regardless of what critics said about them at the time and say about them now, are sacred.

Even most frivolous songs can be as consequential to us as hymns.

I told Krall in a phone interview that Beatles fans tend to get upset with me when I express a preference for the music of Paul McCartney and Wings.

My rationale for this is simple: The Beatles’ music wasn’t being played on the radio when I was a kid. But Wings provided the soundtrack for every road trip and picnic.

“That’s right,” Krall said. “I grew up listening to Wings before I started listening to the Beatles. Because that’s what was coming out. I can get a direct image of that.”

“Wallflower,” therefore, contains some of Krall’s sacred radio songs.

Enjoying music in the pre-digital days was a waiting game, Krall said: You heard something on the radio and then you waited to hear it again on the radio and then you waited for it to come out on “vinyl, cassette, 8-track or reel-to-reel.”

The waiting, as Tom Petty once opined, was the hardest part.

But the anticipation could be delicious at times.

Krall said she resisted producer David Foster’s entreaties to jazz up some of the material on “Wallflower.”

“You do different records at different times in your life,” she said. “And you try different things and you move forward. Not everything has to be reworked into a jazz vehicle. Sometimes you need to play the songs as they were originally written.”

Krall said it was a relief to cede the piano playing duties to Foster.

“It was fun to sort of step out of being the piano player/arranger all the time,” she said.

“Wallflower” has garnered mixed notices, but Krall said that as long as critics’ comments are thoughtful, intelligent and insightful, she welcomes less-than-stellar reviews.

“I don’t mind that,” she said. “That’s the point of it. People are thinking about you and talking about you. A lukewarm review means you’re still being talked about. That’s all good.”

“Wallflower” hardly represents a renunciation of jazz, Krall said.

“An album is very, very different from live performances,” she said. “I’m not the type of artist who goes out and says, ‘OK, now I’m doing all pop songs. I’ve changed. I’m now not playing jazz. I’m doing this.’

“I was interviewed recently by someone who said, ‘Well, I’m primarily a jazz writer,’” Krall recalled. “And I said, ‘Well, I’m primarily a jazz pianist. But I do other things.’”

Being 50, Krall said, means she has recorded far more music than she could ever play live.

“I’m not an artist who has one album out and one album to plug,” she said. “I have lots of records to draw from.”

Turning 50 is a milestone that some people greet with exuberance and some people greet with defiance and some people greet with terror.

Krall said she really didn’t get a chance to greet it at all as there were more pressing matters in her life at the time.

“I had pneumonia,” she said. “I got really sick. And my father died. All around the same time. So I’m just really grateful that I am healthy and I have a beautiful family and husband and I’m moving forward.

“I don’t really have anything original to say about it,” Krall said, referring to aging. “You just got to feel good about where you’re at.”

Where Krall is at these days is not just on stage, sharing her talents and enjoying the fruits of her success.

It’s at her home in New York as mom to eight-year-old twin boys (Dexter and Frank) and wife to British-born singer-songwriter Elvis Costello.

Asked if motherhood altered her perspective on her career, Krall responded, “Oh, I’m sure. Yeah. Of course. It’s the best. It’s what I live for. It’s all that matters to me. My family. They are the most important thing to me.

“You just have to try to find a balance,” she said. “So you can also do what you love to do. It’s unfortunate that I have to travel so much but we figure it out. They come with me. So it’s good.”

One can be excused for imagining that a household headed by Diana Krall and Elvis Costello would be the scene of one continuous jam session.

Krall said it’s not like that, but close.

“It’s not a constant jam session,” she said, “but I would say there’s music going on in the house all the time. It’s great.

“It’s busy,” Krall said. “There’s lots of different kinds of music going on. That’s a beautiful thing. That’s who we are.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wasted On The Way: The Gratitude of Graham Nash

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In 1968, Graham Nash – then known, if he was known at all, as a member of the pop group, the Hollies – flew from the UK to California to spend some time with his girlfriend, Joni Mitchell.

When Nash entered her home in the Hollywood hills, he heard music being played by two men he’d met but did not know: Stephen Stills, formerly of Buffalo Springfield, and David Crosby, formerly of the Byrds.

This unofficial American duo performed for Nash a song that Stills had written called “You Don’t Have to Cry.”

Nash asked them to play it again and then a third time, not just because he liked it but because he heard something in it or something that should have been in it.

On the third go-round, Nash added his voice to theirs.

Forty seconds later, Nash told me in a phone interview, the trio stopped, stunned.

“That was an incredible 40 seconds,” he said.

The three men were all Everly Brothers fans who had imbued every project they’d undertaken up to that point with close harmony singing.

But the sound they made in Mitchell’s living room that day seemed new, Nash said.

Nash’s life utterly changed in that moment because CSN had appeared, fully formed, out of nowhere. Or next to nowhere.

He left the Hollies behind and moved permanently to Southern California.

Almost a half-century later, those three men are still making music together.

Nash is currently on the Midwestern leg of a solo tour that will bring him to the Murat Center in Indianapolis on Saturday, August 1.

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Indianapolis attendees “can expect everything from the Hollies to the stuff I wrote that morning,” Nash said.

Last September, Nash released “Wild Life” (a memoir so accurately named that it may constitute an understatement) and he recalled having a curious reaction while proofreading the galleys.

“I looked down on it and I said ‘Holy Toledo. I wish I was him.’ It really seemed to me in that moment that it was about somebody else.”

Given the consummate wildness of that wild life, especially in the early days of CSN, it’s amazing that any of these men were able to make music at all.

“A lot of people say to us, ‘Would you have made more music or better music if you’d been less stoned or less egoed out?’ We’ll never know the answer to that question,” Nash said. “It is what it is. We were very high when we were making that early music. And that’s what it was.”

Of course, the wages of pharmacological sin are sometimes paid in increased creativity.

“Everything in moderation, kid,” Nash said.

It is one of the “Believe It Or Not” factoids of rock music that CSN, despite having formed in 1968, did not perform live until 1977.

That’s because the band, largely for practical reasons, had to become CSNY for a time.

Stills had handled the bulk of the instrumental work on CSN’s debut album, but the band needed to add some musical muscle for its first tour.

Enter Neil Young.

Having endured Young’s capricious and erratic behavior in Buffalo Springfield, Stills was against the plan to add Young at first, Nash said.

Nash had his own reservations, so he invited Young to breakfast one morning in New York City.

“I knew he was a great singer,” he said. “I knew who he was musically. I had no idea who he was as a person. And that, of course, is a very important ingredient.

“It wasn’t until that breakfast that I just loved him,” Nash said. “He was very funny. He was very self-secure. He was very compassionate. He was everything I wanted in a partner. He was great.”

CSNY did end up making much beautiful music together. Nash said it was unearthly at times to stand on stage and listen to the interplay of Young’s and Stills’ guitars.

But Nash said the foursome was, to quote Crosby, like “juggling four bottles of nitroglycerine.”

Young has always held himself at a distance from the other men (Indeed, as is chronicled in the book, he has sometimes mistreated them, intentionally and unintentionally).

“Neil is a solo human being,” Nash said, “The three of us had a friendship…well, we were like brothers. The three of us were very close and it was very difficult to slip Neil in between all that stuff but we managed to do it.”

The trio has had its ups and downs over the years, including Crosby’s bout with drug addiction and subsequent jail stint and liver transplant.

But Nash said they are now sounding better than ever.

“We’re certainly stronger together and that’s very important for harmony singing,” he said. “We are very much liking each other these days.”

Nash has a new solo album coming out in the spring and he said that he and Crosby are putting together a compilation of songs they’ve performed with other artists including Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, Carole King, James Taylor and Phil Collins.

Nash said he writes new material in bursts and can’t rush the process.

“I get moved by something and then have to go to my guitar or piano to express myself,” he said. “That’s what happens. I wake up in the morning. I’m breathing. I’m grateful to be alive and I get on with my day. I have to be moved before I can write.”

He does say, however, that he needs to “create every single day or else I can’t sleep.”

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Even though the music business has changed greatly over the years, Nash’s advice to young musicians hasn’t.

“My advice has always been, ‘Go from your heart,’” Nash said. “Your heart knows whether it has something worth talking about or singing about. Your heart knows. Just go from there.”

Even the most pragmatic person must acknowledge the serendipity that brought Crosby, Stills and Nash together in Mitchell’s living room that day 47 years ago.

Nash acknowledges it and he said he takes nothing for granted.

“I love being alive,” he said.” I love being a creator. I love being a communicator. I’m a very lucky man, Steve.”

 

“Captain America: Civil War” – What We Know So Far

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“Captain America: Civil War” is currently shooting in Atlanta on an exceptionally tight production schedule.

The film, a sequel to “Captain America: The Missouri Compromise” and “Captain America: John Brown’s Raid,” is one of the most anticipated superhero movies since “Superman V: The Return of Nuclear Man” and is certain to shake the Marvel Cinematic Universe to its very core, which is located – for some reason – just outside of Elsinore, Utah.

The release date may be ten months away, but fans are already getting a taste of what’s in the film thanks to leaked photos, insinuative tweets and brazen taunts.

Some fans at Mintinthebox.com claim to have sneaked onto the set and watched the filming for a little while. They saw a scene in which Captain America carried a prop cutout of Thor’s hammer, which either means that it will be replaced in post by computer graphics or that Chris Evans was stealing something to sell later on eBay to try to make up the gap between his and Robert Downey Jr.’s salaries.

Another sequence involved a garbage truck heading at top speed toward The Institute of Infectious Diseases. This would seem to indicate that at least a third, if not more than 50 percent, of the film will be devoted to trash collection.

The spies also claim to have caught glimpses of Frank Grillo in his Crossbones and Captain Feathersword costumes.

We have all, I trust, seen recent photos of actor Daniel Bruhl arriving on the set. Bruhl is slotted to play villain Baron Zemo in the film.

In the comics, Baron Zemo shot futuristic glue out of a futuristic spray gun. He is not to be confused with Baron Zima, whose chief weapon was a malt beverage that didn’t taste like it could possibly have any alcohol in it until it was too late.

The plot of “Captain America: Civil War” involves superheroes choosing sides in advance of an epic battle with each other, but one character will reportedly remain neutral.

It’s Black Panther, aka the Prince of Wakanda.

In perhaps the film’s most powerful scene, Black Panther’s Minister of External Affairs advises Iron Man, “Prince Wakanda don’t want done what can’t be undone, son.”

According to Mydinnerwithmanthing.com, Hawkeye will wear a costume with more purple in it this time around, War Machine’s armor will be upgraded with a shoulder-mounted cannon and Ant-Man will develop the ability to use his gut microbes to enhance the nutritional value of food he gathers thus allowing him to survive in nitrogen-poor areas, such as rainforest canopies.

According to the Georgereeveswasmurdered.com, Martin Freeman will assay the role of British Prime Minister Edward Chase. He will take responsibility for cleaning up the collateral damage caused by the Avengers – collateral damage being defined as what happens after superheroes decide that the best way to save a city that has been raised high in the air by an evil robot is just to let it drop to the ground.

Actor Sebastian Stan’s presence on the set would seem to indicate that his character, Bucky Barnes (aka the Winter Soldier) will loom large in “Captain America: Civil War.”

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Barnes was a villain in the last “Captain America” movie but he became a hero in the comics. Many fans would love to see him embrace some of the benevolence of his namesake, Pope Bucky VIII.

Rumors that Barnes will eventually assume the persona of Australian rock star Chris Gaines are groundless speculation.

Actor William Hurt’s return as Thunderbolt Ross has generated some wild speculation about whether Ross will transform in “Captain America: Civil War” into the Red Hulk (aka Rulk).

If he does, it could open the door for appearances by Gray Hulk (aka Gulk), Blue Hulk (aka Bulk), Whiny Saffron Hulk (Sulk), Cinnamon-Auburn Hulk (aka Caulk) Peach-Terra Cotta-Fawn Hulk (aka Peter Falk) and Firebrick-Russet-Zaffre-Baby Blue Hulk (aka Fairuza Balk).

Forlorn She-Hulk fans have been wondering when that beloved character will ever make an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Since She-Hulk hasn’t even generated rumors to date, it is probably too optimistic to expect appearances by She-Male Hulk (aka Shmulk) and the Fuchsia matriarch of the Hulk clan, Mother Fulk.

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