Berklee Today

Verve/GRP Producer Tommy LiPuma on the making of When I Look in Your Eyes

 
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The album concept: "I have worked with Diana on four records so far, and we have talked about doing something with strings for awhile. It was important to me that everyone knew the core was the trio or quartet and that the orchestra was just something that added to rather than took away from that. John Mandel and I have worked together on Natalie Cole and Jimmy Scott albums; he is someone I have respected for years and was a natural for this project."

Working in the studio: "We started by recording the rhythm section. Then we sent the tracks to John, and he worked on the arrangements. He worked with them until he knew how to conduct the orchestra to the tracks. The most important aspect is the groove--that's the reason I decided to do it this way. You need to get the correct feel and the tempo and to get the right performance. It is a lot easier when you can concentrate on those things with only three or four people in a room rather than with 40 people in there. If the performance doesn't have the right feel, it won't matter how good the arrangement or the orchestra tracks are."

The meticulous production: "It was a team effort. Someone said to me, 'The Love Scenes album sounds so simple. What did you do?' I said, 'That is the trick.' It shouldn't sound difficult or complicated. You have to cast the right musicians and the right mixer. I have been working with [engineer/mixer] Al Schmitt since 1972. Nobody records acoustical instruments like he does. The ambiance you set in the room is very important too. Without making it apparent, you set the right mood. You want the musicians to just lose themselves in the music and forget where they are."

Krall's artistry: "I never sign an act unless I have seen what they can do live. Making a record is one thing, but they have to be able to back it up, make it come off in person. I was at the Litchfield [Connecticut] Jazz Festival this summer listening to Diana at the sound check. It is amazing to me that after working with her so much, her voice can still hit a nerve with me and I can get welled up inside. There is an emotional sense I feel in her voice. Sometimes you can hear traces of Carmen MacRae in there, but Diana is unique. Even though jazz was a big part of her life growing up, she also listened to a lot of pop. I think it gave her phrasing a certain manner. She has got impeccable timing. If you go to see her, she is not going to do the same song the same way twice. That makes it very interesting.

"Diana hasn't won any awards yet--although she sells more records than the people who are winning the awards. The important thing is that the work stands up and people are buying the records."