Canadian jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall stopped by Place Des Arts this evening for the first of two almost-sold out shows at the stunning Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. The multi-Grammy & Juno Award-winning vocalist is the only jazz singer to have eight albums debuting at the top of the Billboard Jazz Albums and she continues to draw healthy crowds wherever she plays. Tonight’s concert will clearly demonstrate why she’s such an admired musician and vocalist.
As the lights go down inside the theatre around ten minutes after the advertised start time of 8pm, four musicians find their spots onstage in the shadows before a single spotlight welcomes Diana Krall onto the stage. She pauses to greet her audience and quickly takes her place at her piano, where she’ll remain for the next 2 hours. She’s accompanied onstage by some of the most talented people I’ve ever witnessed on one stage at the same time, and each musician is given plenty of room to showcase their talents throughout the evening’s proceedings, with her cultured guitarist, Anthony Wilson, getting the first extended solo during opener ‘Deed I Do.
This tour is named Turn Up The Quiet, the name of Krall’s latest release, so it’s no surprise to hear a few numbers from that album tonight. L-O-V-E is the first up, with its breezy saunter and another outing for Wilson’s guitar skills. Introducing her version of Blue Skies she says “This is about love” before adding, “That’s what we’re doing here, right?”. Indeed, there’s little lyrically that diverts from that everlasting theme. Her cover of Tom Waits’ Temptation is simply gorgeous, and probably the first song that I heard Krall cover. Tonight it sounds sublime, with bassist Robert Hurst particularly shining on this reworked and elongated interpretation. Violinist Stuart Duncan also grabs his time in the limelight, turning his instrument around like a guitar and plucking a solo before returning to his bow. I’ve never witnessed a violinist so creative and it’s a joy to behold.
Almost every song is accompanied by a unique backdrop but otherwise the set remains fairly constant. Krall pays regular homage to her idols. Joni Mitchell’s A Case Of You sounds like it was written just for her, especially with the Canada references, and as she sings “If you want me I’ll be in the bar” it’s a more subdued moment where Krall’s appeal becomes apparent. That voice. Her natural ability behind the piano. And a knack for choosing songs that resonate. It’s hard to think of any artist who seems so perfectly fit for the role. The only time she seems out of her comfort zone is when she attempts to fill between-song time with a little banter. It’s mostly limited to “Merci beaucoup” or “That was a song by…”, and when she does get more conversational, it often stalls as she looks at her bandmates to save her.
“This is a song by Peggy Lee” she says by way of introducing “I Don’t Know Enough About You”. “I never got the chance to hear her sing it in person”. Anthony Wilson is once again given space to show his skills, followed by the rest of the musicians, with drummer Karriem Riggins receiving a huge cheer of appreciation from the audience.
“It’s very emotional for me being in Montreal” claims Krall. “It’s very dear to me”. She tells us that she’s thinking about planning a family vacation to the city during Jazzfest. It’s difficult to imagine her and her family blending in without being noticed by the Jazzfest crowds. Particularly when her husband happens to be a certain Elvis Costello.
There’s a real treat for us when she returns for her first encore as she unfurls a haunting rendition of Bob Dylan’s This Dream of You. It’s a true highlight of tonight’ set. East of the Sun (and West of the Moon) follows before proceedings finally conclude with her sultry version of Sway, the song made famous by Dean Martin over 60 years ago, which is accompanied by a vintage dance clip of George Raft and Carole Lombard dancing.
There’s no denying the talent on stage tonight. It was a real treat just to be in a room with these gifted musicians. All that was lacking was a little more showmanship.
Diana Krall plays her second show at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier on Thursday night, November 30th.
‘Deed I Do
(Fred Rose cover)
Isn’t It Romantic
Night and Day
(Cole Porter cover)
(Irving Berlin cover)
On the Sunny Side of the Street
(Jimmy McHugh cover)
A Case of You
(Joni Mitchell cover)
I Don’t Know Enough About You
(Peggy Lee cover)
Just You, Just Me
(Jesse Greer cover)
This Dream Of You
(Bob Dylan cover)
East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)
(Brooks Bowman cover)
Review & photos – Steve GerrardShare this :