15 million albums sold worldwide, eight Billboard Jazz Chart number one albums and a clutch of Grammy and Juno Awards, Canadian vocalist/pianist Diana Krall has become one of the most successful easy-listening acts of her generation pretty much all by herself. While her own eleven studio efforts are resolutely solo affairs, she isn’t averse to guesting on other artists’ work, having collaborated with everyone from big-band balladeers to virtuoso cellists to country legends. Here’s a look at seven of her best duets.
“The Best Is Yet To Come” with Tony Bennett
As regular duet partners, Krall toured with the swing veteran in 2000 and guested on his 2001 LP, My Friends: Bennett Sings The Blues. But appearing on 2006’s Duets: An American Classic, it’s this sprightly rendition of a track that may be associated with Frank Sinatra, but was in fact first recorded by Bennett, which proved to be their finest hour. Also notable for being one of the few recordings where Krall isn’t sitting behind a piano.
“You Don’t Know Me” with Ray Charles
Written by Eddy Arnold way back in 1955 but made famous by the late soul icon in 1962 on his first chart-topping album, Modern Sounds In Country & Western Music, Ray Charles then struck lightning with the song for a second time. Indeed, the highlight from his Grammy-winning duets album, Genius Loves Company, Krall’s tender softly-spoken delivery was the perfect foil for his more gravelly trademark tones.
“Better Than Anything” with Natalie Cole
The kind of number you’d expect to hear on a Sex & The City soundtrack, Krall got the chance to showcase her playful side on this jaunty jazz-waltz dedicated to the joys of retail therapy. Having already recorded 1996’s tribute album All For You: A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio, Krall sounds more delighted than ever to be performing with the late crooner’s daughter, Natalie, on the standout from 2002’s Ask A Woman Who Knows.
“The Boy From Ipanema” with Rosemary Clooney
Teaming up with Rosemary Clooney on 2000’s Brazil, the penultimate album her long-time mentor recorded before her death in 2002, “The Boy From Ipanema” is arguably one of Krall’s most heart-warming efforts. Featuring a fusion of flamenco guitars, delicate jazz-bar piano hooks and languid lounge-pop beats, this interpretation of Astrud Gilberto’s bossa-nova classic instantly transported you to the shores of Rio De Janeiro.
“Christmas Time Is Here” with Sarah McLachlan
Seemingly a big fan of festive music, Krall has contributed to yuletide records by Celine Dion (“Blue Christmas” from These Are Special Times), Anne Murray (“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” from Anne Murray’s Christmas Album) and Yo-Yo Ma (“You Couldn’t Be Cuter” from Songs of Joy & Peace). But her best seasonal effort appears courtesy of her duet with Sarah McLachlan on her fellow Canadian’s gorgeous 2006 LP, Wintersong. Indeed, “Christmas Time Is Here,” a vocal rendition of The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s instrumental from 1965’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, is so enamoring that even the most miserly of Scrooges would find it difficult to resist its charms.
“Crazy” with Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello
Undeniably one of the greatest country songs of all time, Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” is the kind of track that many feel should remain untouched. But considering the ‘Red Headed Stranger’ actually wrote it, he’s got more excuse than anyone to have a bash at it. Recorded at his USA Network Concert for 2003 album, Live & Kickin’, Nelson’s version doesn’t quite live up to Cline’s seminal take, but it’s still a beautifully affectionate performance which also sees Krall team up with husband Elvis Costello.
“Morning Has Broken” with The Chieftains and Art Garfunkel
Recorded for Irish folk outfit The Chieftains’ 2002 40th anniversary collection, The Wide World Over, “Morning Has Broken” is possibly one of the simplest numbers Krall has ever had to tackle. Nevertheless, it is still an inspired Celtic orchestral re-working of the traditional hymn, made all the more soothing by Krall and Art Garfunkel’s beautifully intertwining harmonies.