Diana Krall was 28 when she met a man who would become not only her frequent producer, but also a lifelong guiding light who "understood the importance of who I was and who I was evolving into as a woman and a jazz musician."
Tommy LiPuma, the seminal record producer and music industry veteran who died on Monday, had a long history with Krall right up till the end. He co-produced Krall's forthcoming album, "Turn Up the Quiet," due May 5 on the Verve label. Over 25 years, LiPuma worked with Krall on 11 of her releases, starting with 1995's "Only Trust Your Heart."
"I could not have done them without him," Krall told The Times on Tuesday in an emotional phone interview. "No one else would know how to do this and how it all fits together. He understood how to get to the magic of the story and the feel and importance of swing."
"He helped me express who I am," added Krall, who will headline two nights at the Hollywood Bowl this summer (Aug. 11-12).
Krall said that she and LiPuma often sent each other letters, reflecting on everything from their work together to life outside the studio. She had just written him in January about their latest collaboration, to which he responded, "I know what you're trying to do, and I'm here to help you do it."
"I'm 52 now, and I'm still looking to him for counsel as my friend," Krall said, her voice beginning to crack. "I'm so proud of this new record, and it's so painful in that I would like for him to be sitting next to me. He was such a mentor and father figure to so many. We were all so lucky."
LiPuma was revered for his deep discography, working his magic with everyone from Barbra Streisand and George Benson to Natalie Cole and Paul McCartney. She could name several, but Krall did have a particular favorite album LiPuma produced.
"'Gate of Dreams,'" she said, referring to the cinematic and genre-scrambling 1977 album by German composer and arranger Claus Ogerman and his orchestra. "Even now I go back to that and it amazes me. But so much of Tommy's work was like that."