Review: Diana Krall, with a Three-piece Band, Summons Jazz Predecessors at Clearwater Show | Music News | Tampa
At a less than full Ruth Eckerd Hall on Friday night, Diana Krall admitted her dimly lit stage was a bit boring. “I can’t really see those papers,” she observed, before launching into “The Look of Love.”
The slightly enigmatic 57-year-old jazz singer is currently in the midst of a brief string of US shows, before spending her July overseas in Europe. She hasn’t performed as much as some artists since the return of live music, but it’s still comforting to know that she was surrounded by music during her self-isolation with her husband, Elvis Costello.
Honestly, you’d think you’re stepping into a modern day Bob Dylan show. There was no elaborate staging, cameras were technically not allowed, and the name on the poster was going to be tucked behind a grand piano, naturally. At around 8:15 p.m., Krall, wearing a black dress, walked straight to her upright piano and performed a few bars of “Where or When” from the musical “Babes in Arms,” before the band stepped in to support her on “I Don’t Know Enough About You”, a song by Peggy Lee.
“All or Nothing at All”, made famous by Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra (yes, Tommy’s brother), was one of the earliest examples we had of how the instrumentation was going to be executed. After Diana’s first set of vocals, jazz guitarist Anthony Wilson did a masterful job on his electric jazz Monteleone, which sounds a lot like a Gretsch. Then there was bassist Robert Hurst, once a member of Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” band, beating and ripping. On drums was Karriem Riggins, who for the most part mostly kept time, but had at least three opportunities to snatch solos that had all eyes on him.
The plucked, tapped, strummed and slid solos by Diana’s backing band were mostly sandwiched between her vocals. There was only one ‘slid out’ solo, which was when Robert Hurst saluted his bass during ‘East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)’, which has already been recorded by Tommy Dorsey and an up-and-coming band. A boy from Jersey named Frank Sinatra.
Krall knows very well who she is, but her ego is far from exaggerated. She didn’t have the gigantic spotlight trained on her, while the rest of the group was hidden in some sort of dim light. Every light above was the exact same amount of light, except between songs when Diana introduced the next song or just revealed secrets, like how her husband is currently working with Burt Bacharach or…
“I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you that,” she admitted.
It was a great way to open “The Look of Love”, written by iconic songwriter and late Hal David in 1967. It originally appeared in the 1967 version of “Casino Royale”, long before Daniel Craig or Chris Cornell make names for themselves. With that factoid in mind, it’s hard not to help but wonder what a krallified version of Cornell’s “You Know My Name” might sound like – from 2006’s “Royale.”
Like any Krall show, the rest of his setlist was mostly wall-to-wall and modern jazz standards to some extent. “More Than You Know”, which doesn’t appear to have been performed since 2015, was described by her as “pretty nice”. Her rendition of “I Just Found Out About Love”, made famous by Nat King Cole, was based on a version she had heard from her friend, the late Shirley Horn. And not that it’s a jazz classic, but Joni Mitchell’s “Amelia,” where the band’s contributions were subtle at best, was a great contribution, especially considering how it was followed by “How Deep Is the Ocean (How High Is the Sky).”
Closing Krall and company’s main set was “Cheek to Cheek”, which had a much faster tempo than the versions most of us know and love. You know, “Heavens…I’m in heaven.” She introduced her band one last time – a ritual she practiced between many of her songs – and gave her closing statement: “It’s so great to be here tonight, and you’re always in my heart. “.
Or so we thought those were his last remarks.
Ahead of her encore of Al Dubin’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (no, not the little punk rocker Green Day’s version), Krall began to talk about how much she enjoys listening to “certain radio stations.” “We don’t play anything we heard on the radio, I’m just saying,”
No need to.