Grammy Winner Gives Master Class at Metro Theatre
By Marc Prince
Metro Staff Reporter
Tri-C received a special visit Sept. 30 by the incomparable jazz superstar, Diana Krall, where students got a chance to hear a lecture by the legend.
Krall performed at PlayhouseSquare the night before to a sold-out audience. At Tri-C, the Grammy winner sat front and center giving a free “Master Class” in the Mainstage Theatre at the Metropolitan Campus.
She, along with long-time friend, producer, and Tri-C’s Center for the Creative Arts namesake, Tommy LiPuma, sat down to a near-capacity audience giving advice, stories and professional experiences on the world of jazz.
Focusing on the more educational aspect of the creation of artist and song, Krall made several points of ensuring that any fan or prospective artist always remember the greats who have made jazz what it is still today.
“I love the history of jazz so much,” Krall said during the very “In the Actors Studio with James Lipton” setting in the conversation portion of the class. She continued with reminding the attendees that they “should always look to who’s done it, before they can do it themselves.”
Krall & LiPuma have worked on numerous projects together, 13 total, including her Grammy Award winning album, Live in Paris (Best Jazz Vocal Album, 2002). Beyond the music, the best treat of all was the astoundingly comfortable demeanor at which Diana carried herself. There were laughs and applause throughout the house as she got intimate with her audience with everything from references to “Bride’s Maids,” comparing her car starting out in the industry to the lead character in the film, to the occasional slip of a “four-letter word,” showing the candor and relatability she would have with her band when performing.
The second portion of the master class offered live performances by both the Oberlin Jazz Studies Program of instrumentalists and some of our own Tri-C Jazz Studies Program students & faculty.
The Jazz Studies group, headed-up by lead vocalist, Jessica Yafanaro, entertained with classic standards like the up-tempo “Never Will I Marry,” recorded by Nancy Wilson, and the sweeping ballad “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most”, which featured an incredible solo performance from the group’s bass player Demetrius Steinmetz.
There were moments during their set when you could easily compare their sound to the kind of musical greatness produced by Tommy LiPuma himself. The most pleasantly surprising offering of the mini-concert came once Krall herself took on the role of mentor to the musicians.
It was during a short, and as not surprisingly candid demonstration of vocal scatting from Krall – who is the wife of Elvis Costello, a legendary musician in his own right – attempting to demonstrate different techniques of performing a stylized song turned into an awe-inspiring duet of the timeless classic “Route 66” between Diana & Jessica, leaving on-lookers in amazement of the connection jazz can truly make through teaching.
The master class was moderated by Ideastream’s Dan Polletta and sponsored by several generous benefactors that included the Ohio Arts Council.
Krall and LiPuma have worked together since Krall’s 1995 album “Only Trust Your Heart.” She has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide and still holds the record for most albums, eight, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Magazine Jazz Album chart, according to Billboard.