Following fast on the heels of her second album, Diana Krall quickly convened a trio of herself, Russell Malone on guitar and Paul Keller on bass, in order to pay tribute to the Nat Cole Trio. ‘All For You’ then features a number of well-known long-time favourites from the legendary, but the band are able to pay syitable homage by including some of the lesser known of Cole hits, taking in the full range of Cole’s repertoire. Every track though is about the trio. Of course Krall sings on every tune, but more than half of each song is instrumental, with superbly crisp extended soloing on piano and guitar.
Here is perhaps the best example of what Krall’s voice can offer; full, sometimes husky, she is able to sing at fast tempo and slow. Although in truth, she is at her best with her slower pieces, such as on the bluesy ‘Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You’ which she chooses to sing at a slower pace than Cole did. With ‘You Call It Madness’ and ‘I’m Through With Love’, she sings in the whisper that would later, to her detriment, become her trademark. But where that would later epitomise the soul of laid back chill, here it forms a melancholic soul.
The highlights though come in the form of the very different ‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams’ and ‘Hit That Jive Jack’. The latter is a fast moving toe-tapper of a number where everyone involved sings along and sounds like they’re having a whale of a time, whereas ‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams’ is a revelation to anyone who would later write Krall off as having a thin or emotionless voice. Essentially a torch song, the singer pines for love gone by, with the sound of a voice holding back the tears.
Touring together for several months before recording this album, the trio perfected their ensemble, and with strong earthy vocals from Krall, this is easily her best jazz album. But Krall has always been a favourite to introduce people to jazz, and her later major label work with her mellower piano and vocal work is what pulled in the larger audience. To those fans, this will come as a surprise, and the sublime instrumental work may be seen by them as perhaps less important than the vocal work.
Recorded when Krall was still relatively unknown, the piano is more prominent and the number of love songs is less. But the music this smallest of bands makes is perfect, taking in numerous tempos and styles. To make an album of this quality, and with so few musicians, you need to be very good indeed. And they do it. It may not be what you’re looking for if you like the later ‘Look Of Love’ or ‘From This Moment On’, but the lack of instant appeal will mean that this will grow on you each time you play it.
A great recording, this is a fitting tribute to Nat Cole and his trio. And perhaps more importantly, for any Krall dissenters, this is the album which shows her true skill at the piano and the heartfelt emotions she can render with her voice.