Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Music Column -William Price King – Summer Jazz – Diana Krall Part One

Welcome to the next artist in the Summer Jazz series and it is the turn of a current jazz superstar to be profiled and showcased. Diana Krall is a music powerhouse who has developed a wonderfully unique performance style that has contributed to the sale of over 15 million records worldwide. I will let William pick up the story.

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In the previous series on the iconic jazz artists of the last century there has often been a common link between them. A very early start to their music careers and parents who have supported and influenced their choice of style; Diana Krall shares those elements. In the first part of her story I am going to take a look at the musicians who influenced her love of music and her developing career.

When asked who her role models were in the music industry Diana Krall has said that Nat King Cole was an inspiration and also the singers that her father introduced her to such as Fats Waller. Later artists include Sting and Elton John as well as the American jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal.

First a look at Diana’s early years.

She was born in 1964 in British Columbia and introduced to music by her parents. There was a piano in the house which her father, an accountant, played in his spare time and her mother sang in a community choir. Diana was exposed to different styles of music in her early years from country & western, rock ‘n’ roll and jazz which she was introduced to by her grandparents. Entertainment was home based and at the age of four, Diana began her classical piano lessons.

She joined her school band and played jazz with her bass teacher Bryan Stovell and by the age of 15 Diana was performing locally in bars and restaurants. At age 17 she received a Vancouver Jazz Festival scholarship which took her to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. On her return to British Columbia she became friends with two musicians who encouraged her to expand her horizons.

Jeff Hamilton is a jazz drummer from Indiana and is best known for his work with Lional Hampton, Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown as well as being co-director of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and leader of his own trio. Here is Jeff Hamilton with Larry Fuller and Lynn Seaton in 1997 courtesy of Drummerworld.

The other friend who influenced a move to Los Angeles was renowned bassist Ray Brown who in his long career had worked with the best, including Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald. At the time that he met and befriended Diana Krall in the 80s, Ray had been in the music business for nearly forty years and brought a huge amount of performance and industry knowledge to the relationship. Here is Ray Brown with Jeff Hamilton and Gene Harris playing Lady Be Good uploaded by Palanzana.

Diana received a grant from the Canadian Arts Councils which enabled her to move to Los Angeles where she was lucky enough to study with another veteran of the music business; pianist Jimmy Rowles. Jimmy had worked with the top artists of the 40s, 50s and 60s including Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee and became Ella Fitzgerald’s accompanist in the 80s. Here is Ella Fitzgerald in Vienna 1981 with Old Macdonald’s Farm.

It was Jimmy Rowles who encouraged Diana to focus on her vocals and in the mid- 80s she returned to Toronto to continue her studies with Canadian pianist-bassist Don Thompson. Don had been a fixture on the Toronto Jazz scene since the late 60s and played with the Rob McConnell’s Boss Brass. In the early 80s Don toured with George Shearing appearing at virtually every jass festival in the United States and performances in the UK and in Brazil.

In 1990 Diana moved to New York but played mostly in Boston with a trio consisting of herself, bassist Whit Brown and drummer Klaus Suonsaari. This was followed in 1993 with her debut album recorded with Jeff Hamilton, bassist John Clayton with input from Ray Brown. Stepping Out caught the attention of producer Tommy LiPuma who had already worked with some of the best musicians and singers in the business including Barbra Streisand, Miles Davis, Natalie Cole and Anita Baker.

Here is Diana Krall with 42nd Street from the album Stepping Out.

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About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

His debut jazz album was entitled “Home,” and was a collection of contemporary compositions he composed, with lyrics written by his wife Jeanne King. His second album was a Duo (Voice and Guitar) with Eric Sempé on the guitar. This album included original songs as well as well known standards from contemporary jazz and pop artists. The “King-Sempé” duo toured France and thrilled audiences for more than three years before going their separate ways. King has formed a new duo with French/Greek guitarist Manolis, and is now exploring new ideas, in a smooth jazz/soul/folk direction.

In addition to singing and composing, King has been collaborating with author Sally Cronin over the past few years on her blog “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life,” with the series “A Man And His Music – Jazz, Contemporary, Classical, and Legends” and now, the “William Price King Music Column.” Working with author Sally Cronin has been an exhilarating experience in many ways and has brought a new dimension to King’s creative life. King has also created a micro blog, “Improvisation,” which features and introduces mostly jazz artists from across the jazz spectrum who have made considerable contributions in the world of jazz; and also artwork from painters who have made their mark in the world of art. This micro blog can be found on Tumblr.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Tormé. King has a distinctive wide-ranging voice which displays a remarkable technical facility and emotional depth.

William Price King on Tumblr – IMPROVISATION

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You can find all of the Music Column series in this directory:

and all the previous posts on jazz, classical and contemporary artists here:

Thank you for tuning in today and I hope you will join us again next Tuesday for the second part of the Diana Krall story –  Thanks Sally and William.