Thursday, July 9, 2009

Diana Krall review - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Diana Krall Puts on Jazzy Show at Heinz Hall
by Peter B. King
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 9, 2009

Those who have heard some of Diana Krall's CDs that are heavy on strings and singing and light on improvisation might have been surprised by the show she put on at Heinz Hall last night.

From the time the Krall quartet took the stage before a sold-out crowd and launched into Peggy Lee's "I Love Being Here With You," they played jazz -- pure and, well, not exactly simple, but you get the point. The music swung hard when it needed to, took some risks and offered plenty of room for solos.

Like jazz musicians since the music's birth who can sing as well as play (think Armstrong or Nat King Cole, even if Krall's not quite at that level), she commands an audience far bigger than the core jazz crowd. Plus, it doesn't hurt that she looks good in red pumps and a sleeveless black dress. She could be standing up singing The Great American Songbook with a pickup orchestra and forgetting about the jazz part, but that's not what she's about. That's good news for jazz, which is starved for star power.

Krall's band was topnotch. Guitarist Anthony Wilson offered harmonic sophistication, lightning runs and lush chord-melody. Bassist Robert Hurst played a couple of fleet, sweet-toned solos, including a walking, in-tempo solo on Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek" that was a highlight. Also on "Cheek to Cheek," Jeff Hamilton's solo pulled a rainbow of colors from his drum kit.

Krall led the way with her accomplished piano playing, finessing a range of styles from stride to bebop to Antonio Carlos Jobim-style bossa nova plinking. As for her singing, Krall took risks throughout, altering melodies in subtle, surprising ways. Her contralto vocals were dusky, breathy, and often sexy and emotional -- especially on Jobim's "Quiet Nights (Corcovado)." Understated, the tune cast a spell.

Unfortunately, her vocals sometimes sounded a little thin, especially when she reached for high notes. I also had trouble understanding the words -- diction counts (sounds prissy, doesn't it?), and she threw some good lyrics away.

One other problem was beyond the band's control. From where I was sitting in the middle of the orchestra, the sound system was a bit tinny and muddy.

Nevertheless, Krall and her band won the day, scoring with inventive versions of "Where or When," "Walk on By," "East of the Sun," "Devil May Care" and more.

For an encore, she offered Nat King Cole's "Exactly Like You," whose lyrics about true love could have been "autobiographical," she said. Earlier, she had made a joke about how, as a schoolgirl, she was listening to Ahmad Jamal while all her friends were listening to Elvis Costello. He is now her husband, and their two children were backstage, along for the tour.

1 comment:

Sergio E. Benìtez said...

Còmo me hubiese gustado estar allì.

Un gran abrazo Arnaldo.