Thursday, May 3, 2012

Diana Krall Live at the State Theatre, Cleveland, April 28, 2012

I had the pleasure of seeing Diana Krall live last weekend, and with a few small exceptions, it was a lovely night. Krall was in fine voice, her vocals one of the evenings' highlights. And when she applied herself to the piano, she played with aplomb. The opening run of I Just Found Out About Love, How Deep Is the Ocean? (How High Is the Sky?) (with a touch of Leon Russell's Song For You on the side), So Nice (Summer Samba) from her most recent Quiet Nights LP,  and I’ll String Along with You, were all excellent, with ensemble playing and solos by all- Krall herself, Anthony Wilson, guitarist extraordinaire, bassist Robert Hurst and Karriem Riggins on drums- all stellar players, with Wilson and Riggins especially hot. Walk On By, played too fast, but saved by Wilson's incendiary guitar, and the amazing I Was Doing Alright, in tribute to Oscar Peterson, concluded the first "band" set.

Krall then played four songs solo at the piano, and Dylan's Simple Twist of Fate (great vocal) and Fats Waller's If You’re a Viper were very good, and I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter was fine. Her under-prepared Don’t Fence Me In was the only disappointment of the night. It may have been her Mom's favorite, but it deserved more thought.

The band returned for the Krall-Costello-penned Abandoned Masquerade, followed by Exactly like You, and a remarkable version of Tom Waits' Jockey Full of Bourbon, and all three were killer, the band firing on all cylinders, including Krall herself. An encore of the title cut from Quiet Nights sent the crowd home in a mellow mood.

At just  eighty minutes it felt short,  but it was good, what there was of it. The backing trio could have played a brief 20-minute opening set, and I would have felt more amply rewarded for my dollars.

Small gripes. You may not like her jazz-pop style, but if you do, well, she's outstanding in person.

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