For listeners, jazz singers are the most admired instrumentalists even though their place in jazz history has been largely overlooked in the literature on jazz. Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Krall, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Michael Bublé are amongst the hundred greatest jazz vocalists; however, their role in jazz production and the music industry has been regarded as entertainers rather than as artists. Although singer’s function has been increased before bebop in big bands, developing new styles as hard bop, modal jazz, free jazz and jazz-rock decreased their performance and popularity among jazz musicians and scholars.
David Ake examines the jazz pianists prior to bebop who often served a dual function both as pianists and singers. Recently, another scholar, Yvetta Kajanová explored Diana Krall, the “Frank Sinatra in a skirt”, and her versatility. Krall demonstrates not only a white female multi-instrumentalist’s control, but also represents a new artistic direction for developing conservative, traditional jazz styles in an elegant manner.
In this paper I compare Diana Krall’s interpretation of Fly Me to the Moon (written by Bart Howard in 1954), the standard popular song originally titled In Other Words, with Nat King Cole’s and Frank Sinatra’s interpretations. I also examine Krall’s inspirational sources such as Sinatra’s “white swing” and his vocal interpretation, and Cole’s piano and vocal combination with attention to such musical aspects as rhythmic phrasing, harmony and piano stylization. In addition, the paper discusses and evaluates multi-ethnic aspects, such as the influence of race and social background as with Sinatra’s Sicilian roots and his political involvement, Cole’s African – American roots and his experience with segregation, and Krall’s Slovakian roots linked to her great grandparents’ emigration from Central Europe at the turn of the 20th century. These are three clear examples of musicians whose different social and cultural origins have resolved into different musical arrangements. I argue that Diana Krall is not just “a commercial entertainer” in the music industry, as it seems to many critics, but she is an eminent jazz artist with a significant feminine role in jazz history. This paper is contributes to the discourse on the evolution of vocal jazz illustrating the contradictions between music and politics, and evaluates the role of a prominent female vocalist in jazz history.
Who is a jazz singer? Someone, who can swing, scat, improvise or who can use “dirty” notes? And is the singer even an instrumentalist? These two essential questions had been answered many times, yet there is still confusion between their explanations.
Although singer’s function has been increased before bebop in big bands, developing new styles as hard bop, modal jazz, free jazz and jazz-rock decreased their performance and popularity among jazz musicians, scholars and listeners. Historical events, political aspirations, social and cultural differences have diminished position of contemporary jazz singers.
David Ake examines in Jazz Cultures (2002) the jazz pianists Nat “King” Cole and Sarah Vaughan who often served a dual function both as pianists and singers. “This practice essentially allowed nightclub owners to hire two musicians for the price of one, while patrons enjoyed the chance to hear their favorite lyrics as well as their favorite melodies.”1 Diminishing and leaving this dual function of pianists and singers in one musician since bebop to free jazz period and with emergence of rock music, which was the big competitive counterpart in music, the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century seems to be perfect for the comeback. Diana Krall plays a dominant role in a history of jazz; she pioneered this comeback of the dual function in a new and innovative jazz style; she is an original musician who combined both aspects of music: the entertaining quality as well as the artistic and creative side.
Jazz critic Will Layman calls Diana Krall “female Nat Cole” and recently, another scholar, Yvetta Kajanová explored Diana Krall, the “Frank Sinatra in a skirt”, and her versatility in Postmodernism in Music: Minimalistic music, Rock, Pop, Jazz (2010)2. “Diana Krall is a personality who proved to popularize small swing combo and showed, that swing can constantly develop” (p. 127). She implements both aspects of music: artistic and entertaining through old jazz and popular standards in very original approach which is typical for Krall. Her popularity could be based also on the fact that she has a contralto voice which oscillates majorly around A4 and that might be a key for listeners because A4 is 440 Hz and that has the smoothest oscillations of the sound among all the sounds. Therefore music starts with A. She is known for her low vocal range starting on contralto D (D3), keeping her voice control safe up to G4, and her smooth tone quality reminding Bach’s low dynamic choices, but still intriguing and captivating rhythmic selections often moving off beats slightly behind the expected off beat (behind-the-beat phrasing). She could use her voice up to B4 and with a head voice also higher notes, however, most of the songs she keeps only up to G4. She demonstrates not only a white female multi-instrumentalist’s control, but also represents a new artistic direction for developing conservative, traditional jazz styles in an elegant manner.
Diana Krall (1964) has been inspired by singers who have played piano. Dinah Washington (1924 – 1963) known for singing torch songs (sentimental love songs), Sarah Vaughan (1924 – 1990), Roberta Flack (1937) and Shirley Horn (1934 – 2005) who similarly as Diana used her contralto in ballad work with maximum independence and ability on the piano while singing, the next influences come from Andy Bey (1939), known for four octave baritone voice, Aretha Franklin (1942) known as one of the most important popularizers of the soul music and especially Carmen McRae (1920 – 1994) who has been one of her biggest influences, presumably influencing Diana with her behind-the-beat phrasing. According to Diana Krall, Nat Cole was the ultimate. “Nat was the only ‘hyphenate’ I know who was extraordinarily influential as both a singer and pianist”. Comparing Diana Krall to post-bop singer Betty Carter (1929 – 1998), known for complex scatting abilities and imaginative interpretation of lyrics and melodies excellently presented in Giant Steps during Hamburg Festival in 1993. Diana is more accurate in diction and reduces scatting. Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae considered Betty Carter as the only true jazz singer.
Vaughan had her voice in lower register reaching to a contralto D and was able to stretch it up high (soprano) C = C6, which is two octaves above Middle C. She and Diana accentuate lyrical meaning in frequently used jazz standards, but Vaughan used more glissandi, frequent ornamentation, scatting and melodic variations. Despite a high acclaim of both artists, they were shy on stage; Vaughan even suffered from stage fright which was sometimes unbearable. While Diana Krall seems to be limited by her vocal range (according to Diana in the Interview with Jô on ‘Programa do Jô, November 28, 2007, Diana Krall has less than one octave range in alto register; however her complete range is from contralto D up to G4 – the first G above middle C) it is important to mention that Billie Holiday’s range was only one octave and that did not limited her artistry in jazz.
Diana Krall’s style resembles to new generation of male singers as well. Kevin Mahagony (1958) is an American jazz vocalist known for his singing sentimental style but differs from Diana through his scatting (Yardbird Suite, Route 66) and more dramatic approach (Yesterday I Had My Heart, Please Send Me Someone To Love) in singing. On the other hand, Kurt Elling (1967) is like “modern Sinatra” but with more sophisticated approach which could be influenced by earlier Elling’s studies of counterpoint in Johann Sebastian Bach’s motets (Samurai Cowboy is a great example of Bach’s influence). Contrasting Diana, he fluctuates from middle range to high descants and uses frequently scatting in fast tempos (Tight, Nature Boy).
So who is a jazz singer? Is Diana Krall a jazz singer, pop singer or just an entertainer? Is her music artistic or entertaining? Although Sinatra was more entertaining and less artistic, he was excellent in swinging and had a great sense of rhythm at the time when swing was considered as jazz and at the same time a popular music. Swing at this time was not an entertainment, neither an art, it was simply just a swing. In other words, development of jazz moved from simplicity to complexity and then came a breaking point, when after Sarah Vaughan it was not possible to make the jazz more difficult and complicated, therefore swing came back and consequently Kurt Elling, Kevin Mahagony and Diana Krall became popular. Only difference between these three singers and Frank Sinatra is, that Elling, Mahagony and Krall had to accept all previous forms and qualities of jazz vocals which appeared in the history of jazz and they had to know these earlier styles but it is up to them which features of jazz vocals they will incline the most and will develop in their own style.
Comparative Analysis of Fly Me to the Moon
The popular standard song Fly Me to the Moon, originally titled In Other Words, is part of The Great American Songbook Volume V. It had been written by Bart Howard in 1954, which is an important year dividing “old” style from “new”; particularly ‘old’ jazz and old popular standard songs from new rock ‘n’ roll. It was in April 1954 when Bill Haley recorded the first rock ‘n’ roll song Rock Around the Clock although earlier recordings preceded this song with rock ‘n’ roll elements.
One month later, in May 1954, a brief review in Billboard magazine said about Howard’s song and Kaye Ballard’s voice that it was “A love song sung with feeling…” which had been recorded and performed by many artists.
Musical choices of Diana Krall, Nat ‘King’ Cole and Frank Sinatra in Fly Me to the Moon clearly respond to their heritage: Diana Krall’s Slovakian family tree bonded with emigration from Central Europe, Nat King Cole’s African – American heritage tied to segregation and Sinatra’s Sicilian roots fused to political involvement.
Recordings from 2000 to 2013 seem to have a perfect place for the comeback. Diana Krall pioneered this comeback with entertaining and artistic aspect of music.
(1915-12-12) Diana Krall recorded Fly Me to the Moon on her album Live in Paris (2002) and played it for several different occasions (for TV shows, NASA, Neil Armstrong’s memorial service and during her concerts). In each performance Diana proves to be an innovative and creative jazz musician. She performed this song live with quartet in Paris (Anthony Wilson – guitar, John Clayton – bass, Jeff Hamilton – drums), as well as with her trio (Jeff Hamilton and John Clayton) and even as a duet with only bassist John Clayton and as a soloist. Each time Diana Krall uses different tempos, from moderate to up-beat tempo and also she changes from swinging style to almost unrecognizable impressionistic and romantic style. When she played as a soloist for the first astronaut landing on the moon – Neil Armstrong’s memorial service (September 13, 2012 at Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C.), her interpretation was purely pianistic based on long and quiet arpeggios, very slow tempo, sensitive tone color, reminding Debussy’s compositions, which truly reflected the occasion. However, when she ribed and and used more swinging rhythms in upbeat tempo.
Example 1. Fly Me to the Moon by Diana Krall, 2002.
Transcribed and rewritten into Finale software by Zuzana Ben Lassoued.
Diana Krall played Fly Me To The Moon in many settings: as soloist, duet, trio or with orchestra, but the best version is as duet with John Clayton who not only blended with Diana’s piano and vocals but also substituted her bass line. Many Diana’s mentors are bass players: Stovell, Thompson, Brown and Clayton. Diana says, “I have many pianistic influences, but I perform with bass players in duo and trio settings. They are my left hand. My bass mentors are truly my teachers. They have been the voice of leadership and experience, and I have learned so much music from them.” (CD Only Trust Your Heart, 1995). Diana Krall presents her distinctive zesty voice with a fine tone control, clear diction without histrionics, a little scatting and no over-embellishment. This particular recording has been watched by over 6 and half million listeners which proves her popularity and talent.
Nat ‘King’ Cole plays Fly Me to the Moon with George Shearing (piano and arranger) and Ralph Carmichael (arranger and conductor). Recorded in 1962 in studio album Nat King Cole Sings/George Shearing Plays and released on Capitol Records.
Example 2. Fly Me to the Moon sung by Nat ‘King’ Cole,1961.
Transcribed and rewritten into Finale softwear by Zuzana BenLassoued.
Frank Sinatra’s version of Fly Me to the Moon has been the best known version until Diana Krall recorded her version. Recorded in 1964 in It Might As Well Be Swing, accompanied by Count Basie (piano) and The Count Basie Orchestra. Arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones who changed the waltz time signature from ¾ to swinging4/4 time signature. In 1966, Sinatra performed this song with Basie on Sinatra at the Sands and in 1994 with Antonio Carlos Jobim on Duets II in bossa nova style.
Frank Sinatra keeps it swinging and often he changes lyrics in order to socially or politically connect with the audience. When Sinatra sung it for NASA, he changed the lyrics to connect more with the great event in a history: first walk on the moon by Neil Armstrong. Diana Krall also performed this song for NASA at the mission’s 40th anniversary but she connected with this song more on the personal level; commenting on her childhood how fascinated she was by science and her first book bought by her mom called Carrying the fire, building her first rocket ship from the paper towel tubing when she had her confirmation day at the age of 13, always being interested in space program and wanting to be an aeronautical engineer. She also remarked on her at that time two and half year of twin sons how Frank corrected his swimming instructor saying that the Buzz lightener does not float on the water but he flies. In 2012, Diana Krall performed Fly Me To The Moon for the national memorial service of the commander Neil Armstrong in much more slower tempo, more arppegiated chord progression and romantic style.
Frank Sinatra interacts with orchestra during his breaks and orchestral solos and is very independent from orchestra in his vocal solos. He leads the orchestra and has very strong personality.
Comparing his lyric’s connection to NASA and an approach to the song to the version he sings for nonspecific event and audience, he connects this song on social or political level toward to the audience, specifically to women by changing lyrics accordingly.
Frank Sinatra and Count Basie complement each other. Sinatra extended swing through slurs, uses less control and more expressive vocal lines. Count Basie keeps it swinging through attention-grabbing accentuated steady beat and crescendo build ups in wind section.
Example 3. Fly Me to the Moon sung by Frank Sinatra, 1964
Transcribed and rewritten into Finale softwear by Zuzana BenLassoued.
Differences and similarities
Diana Krall’s example is based on the version as a duet with bassist John Clayton. The sound of piano, bass and singing corresponds to a tendency in the end of the seventies and beginning of the eighties, when small set ups as duets were modern. For example duets like Hancock and Corea, Mc Rae and Shearing: Two for the Road (1980), or trio Laughlin, de Lucia and DiMeola. This kind of chamber sound has been still modern and popular in 2002. The sound of piano and singing voice of the bass is a modern innovation under influence of the bass guitarists development in the 80s and the 90s. Nat King Cole’s example is based on version with George Shearing (piano and arranger) and Ralph Carmichael (arranger and conductor) which highlights more romantic sound in light swing and Sinatra’s example is based on the version with Count Basie and The Count Basie Orchestra which brings more jazzy swinging sound but rather commercially oriented than artistically in temrs of the minimum use of improvisation.
Style and Rhythmic phrasing
Cole swings in small combo, Sinatra swings in big orchestra and Krall swings in the neoclassical style/retrostyle which brings out old style in a new context. Diana Krall uses of beat rhythm with many appoggiaturas, Nat King Cole uses ¾ time signature to create dancelike waltz by singing dotted quarter note followed by 3 eight notes and Frank Sinatra bases his rhythmic feel on swinging syncopation. When we look at the example No. 1, we can see in the interpretation of Diana Krall how the original swinging notes (dotted eight note in m. 1, example No. 3 of Frank Sinatra) are shorter and changed to melodic ornaments – an appoggiatura (m. 1, example No. 1). Although the notation of the m. 1 in example No. 2 of Nat “King” Cole is in ¾ time signature, it stays in syncopated rhythm and moves the beat and offbeat to weak beats in naturally felt subconscious 4 beat pulsation which creates polyrythmical respectively polymetrical tension.
Measure 3 and 4 demonstrate different approach of an each artist. While Diana continues in the style of neoclassicism and uses ornamentation, Nat continues in polyrhythmic feel in which he creates from the original 4 measures in ¾ time signature 5 measures by forming almost a new measure in the background of the second measure through tied notes. The first phrase in Diana’s interpretation is 4 measures long, but Sinatra almost fit the same phrase into one measure since the phrase “let me play up with those stars” fits into one measure through sixteen notes, therefore his phrase is in 3 measures. From this point of view, Diana swings the most and her ornamentation means that she is gallant in terms of “gallant” embellished improvisation.
Three different keys
In order to compare all three examples, I have transposed all three examples into one key of C Major. However, only Nat ‘King’ Cole’s version represent the whole composition which is in ABA form/verse-chorus-verse, therefore only his version starts with a Major key. Since B section/the chorus of the original form is in relative minor key, Diana Krall and Frank Sinatra sing it in a minor key since they use only B section/the chorus. All three examples shown in this chapter are representing only the B section, therefore all three are in the minor key. Considering the original version in ABA form, Nat ‘King’ Cole’s version is in a key of Db Major, Diana Krall’s key would be interpreted in a key of F major, and Frank Sinatra’s key would be in C Major. Otherwise, if we focus only on their B section, Nat ‘King’ Cole’s original version is in Bb minor, Diana Krall’s original version is in D minor and Frank Sinatra’s original version is in A minor.
Ochestrations and arrangements
Diana Krall performs the song as a duet with John Clayton (bass). Her arrangement starts introductory measures with piano and bass, followed by her vocals. Verse is repeated twice and between the verses Diana plays her solo accompanied by John Clayton. While playing the verse for the first time, Diana smoothly transitions from vocal part to piano part, respectively she finishes phrases with a piano, improvising on chords with short melodic lines and ornaments (grace notes). She implements them after: “ In other words hold my hand” (she finishes phrase with piano after ‘hand’), “in other words darling kiss me” (piano after ‘me’), “You are all I long for all I worship and adore” (piano after ‘adore’), “in other words”(followed by piano), “please be true”(followed by piano), “in other words I love you” (followed by piano and adding extensive piano solo after that). Any finishes are based on detached chords, mostly played in staccatowhich is differentfrom Nat ‘King’ Cole, who sings and plays it mostly in legato. Especially the chords at the end of phrases, Cole uses usually only two or three tied chords under pedal and very quietly. After solo comes repetition, in which Diana Krall focuses on vocals rather than piano, which is a great change. She changes pitches of her vocals by either repeating them in higher pitch than the first time, or sliding on them, changing intervals for higher note and embellishing them with many grace notes. It is very stimulating to see constant change in her improvisation and instantly different expression. Coda ends in the same manner; using lyrics which are completed through Diana’s piano improvisation. John Clayton supports to the very end, finishing together on staccato chords.
Nat King Cole introduces Fly Me to the Moon with piano only. He is the only one among them three who uses A section, in which the verse starts with vocals and string section. It sounds romantic in slow tempo and string section and Cole supports this romantic feel with his vocal approach, concentrating on the lyrics and their meaning rather than notes. It sounds as if he was retelling the story rather than singing it. The bridge between A and B section is filled by piano and vibraphone through an ascending scale and tempo is slightly faster in order to prepare swinging B section/the chorus which starts with Cole’s vocals and piano accompanied extremely quietly by drums. The string section comes in after the “In other words: darling kiss me!”. This is exactly the measure in which Diana Krall starts completing her phrases with a piano versus Nat ‘King’ Cole completes the same phrases with strings playing three legato chords. Cole ends verse with piano and drums only, continuing into piano solo divided into three parts: first part played by solo piano accompanied by quiet drums and vibraphone, second part adding the strings as a response to piano solo and third part finishing again as the first except it bridges with ascending line of the strings flawlessly entering recapitulation of the chorus but only a fragment of it starting with: “Fill my heart with song…”. Comparing to Diana, she repeated chorus in two different versions, first focusing on piano, and second time on vocals. Comparing her arrangement to Cole’s one, he sung the full version in ABA form, therefore he has chosen shorter recapitulation of the chorus. His balladic approach throughout the whole song he ends the last three words with only strings followed by short string ending and very light ascending and diminishing sound of the vibraphone which disappears smoothly.
Frank Sinatra with The Count Basie Orchestra opens his song with a gesture which is typical for Sinatra: he kisses his hand and sends the kiss toward to the audience. In an entertaining fashion, he starts immediately moving/dancing in a swinging moderate tempo, snapping his fingers, smiling at the audience and responding with his moves to the first introductory measures played by accented swinging piano arrangement accompanied by drums. The difference between Diana Krall, Nat ‘King’ Cole and Frank Sinatra I, that Sinatra approaches immediately his audience and then his orchestra and communicates with them through his body movements, gestures, facial expression, dancing and directly looking at them. Sinatra focuses on social aspect of his performance while Krall focuses on musical aspect and Cole on the meaning of the lyrics. After introduction, piano stops and the lyrics are accompanied only by drums and short entrances of flute responding to the lyrics which creates a very nice effect and emphasis on vocal part and lyrics. The next phrase “let me play up there with those stars” is supported by a few chords played quietly on piano which smoothly add to the accompanying sound and the words “in other words” are completed by either flute or saxophone. The bridge before repetition consists of the full orchestra. When orchestra builds up the bridge in crescendo ending the notes in forte, Sinatra responses to that by raising his shoulders when orchestra did crescendo walking on the stage in swinging motion and looking at the audience, supporting wind section with hand gesture and stomping with his foot on stage while hearing the last notes in forte. Frank Sinatra communicates with the audience through his movements and gestures and responses to the orchestra by yelling at them “yeah, yeah” with swinging feel and accompanying them with his quasi vocal improvisation singing along “shoobe doobe doobah” and literally dancing on stage. When Sinatra feels the swing, he actually involves all possible gestures versus Diana Krall, when she feels the swing, she just hums along “taaaa ta dee dup, ba bee bop, yeeeeeeeee ee…” but not necessarily adds to the sound. The difference between them is that Sinatra is consciously adding his voice to the orchestra while Krall uses her vocals in her piano improvisation as a response to her creation rather than adding to the sound. As much as Diana and Nat were filling the lyrics “in other words” with a piano, Sinatra supports his vocals with full orchestra, building up the sound at the end of the song, using only the piano chords and three times snapping his fingers before singing the last word “you” and pointing with a finger at someone in the audience. In other words, as he started communicating with the audience at the beginning of the song, he also does the same at the end.
Time signature and form
Diana Krall sings in 4/4 time signature sometimes slightly postponing the beat. Nat King Cole sings it in ¾ time signature but it sounds as if it was fluctuating between ¾ and 4/4 time signature, only piano accompanying and orchestra clarifies ¾ time signature and Frank Sinatra sings in flawless swinging and dancing 4/4 time signature and also compresses 16 mm into 15 mm.
Overall, there have been many dissimilarities in interpretations of Fly Me to the Moon. Alterations appeared in the key change, time signature changing from ¾ to 4/4 and the orchestration varies from duet through quintet to a big orchestra.
Diana Krall sings shorter version (only chorus) and adds piano solo improvisation. Her interpretation includes Introduction (4mm) – B (32mm) – B (32mm) – B (32mm) – B (32mm) and Coda (14mm). Her version is more similar to Nat “King” Cole’s than Sinatra’s in the aspect of musical form and harmony. Nat “King” Cole is the longest among all three artists. He sings full version (verse and chorus) with Introduction (4mm) – A (32mm) – B (32mm) – B (32mm) and Coda (2mm). Frank Sinatra sings the shortest version (only chorus), no A (Verse). Sinatra often changes lyrics and also a form in some other versions.
Diana Krall uses following chord progression: vi7 – ii7- V7 – I 6/9 – IV Maj7 – III7, Nat “King” Cole uses in B section: vi7 – ii7 – V7 – Imaj7 – I7 – IV – ii6 – III7, vi – VI7 – ii – ii7 – V7 – ii7 – V7 – I – ii – V7 – iv6 – I VII7 – III7, vi7 – ii7 – V7 – Imaj7 – I7 – IV – ii6 – III7 – vi – VI7 – ii – ii7- V – ii – V7 – IMaj7 – I7 – IV6 – V7 – V7-9 – I – vi – ii7 – I and Frank Sinatra uses standard vi – ii – V7 – I – IV – III chord progression.
Modifications are obvious also in the use of the form and chord progression. All three musicians swing but the richness of the harmonies are very different from each other. Sinatra is using the simpliest and clearest version of vi – ii – V7 – I – IV – III chord progression, Nat King Cole is expanding harmony in a style of cool jazz through the sevenths except the subdominant degree (vi7 – ii7 – V7 – Imaj7 – I7 – IV – ii6 – III7) and Diana Krall fully expands even the subdominant degree to IVMaj7. The following chord progression vi7 – ii7- V7 – I 6/9 – IV Maj7 – III7 repeats in Diana’s version 26 times in style of be bop.
In all three examples harmonies are changing in all three interpretations although the all three swing.
In meassures 1 – 4 is different harmony: Diana Krall changes the most not only a melody but also she has the richest harmony. In mm. 3-4 she ornaments harmony on the piano with extra : C#6/9 at the end of the third beat in m.3 going to C6/9 to C7#9(b13) in m.4. Cole and Sinatra use only 7th chords while Krall uses also 9th and 11th chords (m. 11 : F9+11).
In meassures 1 – 2 are different phrasings but the melody remains the same in all three versions except Diana Krall slides many times from melody through appogiaturas and slured melodic notes (C) with extra added ‘E’ note in m.1 on the third beat.
Diana changes harmony of the song; it is possible to compare last 3 measures, in which Cole and Sinatra use the same harmony but Diana completely changes the harmony:
|Measure 14||Measure 15||Measure 16|
|Krall Dmi7/G G7||Cb/C||E7|
|Cole G7||Fm6 C||Bm7 E7|
|Sinatra G7||Fm6 C||Bm7 E7|
Fly Me To The Moon originally consists of verse and chorus, however since 1956, the verse has been omitted.
Poets often use many words to say a simple thing Fly me to the moon
It takes thought and time and rhyme to make a poem sing Let me play among the stars
With music and words I’ve been playing Let me see what spring is like
For you I have written a song On Jupiter and Mars
To be sure that you’ll know what I “m saying In other words, hold my hand
I’ll translate as I go along In other words, darling, kiss me omits
Changed version – Lyrics after 1956
Fly me to the moon
Let me play among (up there with those) the stars
Let me see what spring (life) is like
On Jupiter and Mars
In other words, hold my hand
In other words, darling (baby), kiss me
Fill my life (heart) with song
And let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore
In other words, please be true
In other words, I love you
(Why don’t you) Fill my life (heart) with song Let me sing for ever more
(Because) You are all I long for
All I worship and (I) adore
In other words, please be true
In other words, in other words
(In other words, in other words
In other words)
I love … you
Adjustments had happened in lyrics as well. After 1956, the first verse had been completely omitted and Frank Sinatra skips also repetitions of the chorus. Moreover, he compresses 16 mm into 15 and alteres lyrics which clearly correspond with his character. His changes in lyrics: “Let me play among the stars” for “Let me play UP THERE WITH THOSE stars” evokes his personal and political relationships with stars and politicians, but this assumption can be clarified and changed to more specific theory while examining other changes in lyrics which evidently describe his personal rather than political position in society: “In other words, BABY kiss me” – instead of “darling kiss me” or “Fill my HEART with song” – instead of “fill my life with song”. These changes reflects Sinatra’s personality and his personal life style which was surrounded by many women. His reactions to the lyrics in his performances are showing his personal rather than musical choices such as: “WHY DON’T YOU fill my heart” he uses almost personally comparing to original lyrics: “Fill my heart” which do not include words: “Why don’t you” at all, respectively it never existed before. Frank Sinatra is like a swinging French Trouver or German Minnesinger who sings about love and the love is the main subject of his music. Furthermore, in words “Let me sing for ever more BECAUSE you are all I long for all I worship and I adore” – Sinatra adds “I adore” emphasizing his self-perception and self-esteem rather than music.
Nat King Cole sings it in slower tempo, improvises less than Diana Krall and orchestration is more romantic. He also extends vowels of many words to keep it loving and dreamy while Diana keeps the lyrics short and quite accented.
Sinatra used bel canto technique which is his natural approach due to his Italian roots and also traditional approach in such interpretation from which he is evolving. Nat King Cole and Diana Krall have been singing with a speech level singing technique3, ] which allows their naturalism and expression to stand out. Diana uses for singing her chest register, Nat used speech level singing while going from chest register to mix (voix mix). All three singers’ voices have darker color; particularly in the case of male singers is important to emphasize that Sinatra and Cole were singing in the 60s, when the esthetical idol of the velvet baritone singer was dominating on the scene. Krall’s contra alto voice is for jazz and also for popular music unique because most of the female singers dispose with mezzosoprano register.
Such musical aspects as rhythmic phrasing, harmony and vocal stylization, multilateral aspects as evolution of race and social construct, and marketing practice are based on different roots and heritage. These are examples of three different social and cultural forms resolved in three different musical sets.
Are Diana Krall, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole crooners? All three artists are comparable to “crooners”; the singers who sing mostly from the Great American Songbook and are accompanied by a full orchestra, a big band, small combo or a piano. Nonetheless, they are artists of their own time and in their own distinctive way. Diana Krall emphasizes jazz lyricism, Frank Sinatra accentuates dance like story lines and Nat ‘King’ Cole highlights swinging rhythms. Evidently, Sinatra never been a jazz musician, but Cole started with jazz. Did he move from jazz to popular singing or we consider his vocal style as a form of jazz? Diana Krall fluctuates between what we call jazz and popular music however she never loses her jazz approach. Frank Sinatra is noticeably a crooner as well as his contemporaries Tony Bennett, Harry Connick Jr. or Michael Bublé, but Diana Krall and Nat ‘King’ Cole remain true jazz musicians with dual function as vocalists and pianists.
These are three clear examples of musicians whose different social and cultural origins have resolved into different musical arrangements. I argue that Diana Krall is not just “a commercial entertainer – crooner in skirt”, in the music industry, as it seems for many critics, but she is an eminent jazz artist with a significant feminine role in jazz history.
There have been many significant recordings since 1954 until 1970. However after 1970 there has been 30 years gap of not making any significant recording due to social and political changes in the world. Over the centuries, musicians have tried to create new forms, new structures, follow new ideas, yet one principle never had changed: and that is a need to communicate. In this sense, Diana Krall is creating with her style response to previous music, reacts, interacts and moves towards “romantic” jazz, poetic singing style with the preference of slow songs.
- David Ake: Jazz Cultures (2002), p. 88.
- Yvetta Kajanová: Postmoderna v hudbe. Minimal, rock, pop, jazz. [Postmodernism in Music: Minimalistic music, Rock, Pop, Jazz] (2010), p. 148.
- Samuel Tomeček: Vokál v rockovej hudbe. In: Musicologica.eu, č. 1, 2012, http://www.musicologica.eu/?p=601
Ake, David: Jazz Matters: Sound, Place, and Time Since Bebop, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2010.
Ake, David: Jazz Cultures, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2002.
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