Diana Krall with her trio and the L.A. Philharmonic in the first of two performances at the Hollywood Bowl.
There were two concerts at the Bowl Saturday night. The first was Diana Krall with the L.A. Philharmonic: a perfectly fine night, easy listening sounds with good bone structure, the kind of music that makes the Canadian superstar the Norah Jones of jazz – an anodyne beauty with an aura of sophistication, perfect to accompany a happy hour of shopping in an upscale boutique.
The second also featured Krall, but with her hard-driving backing trio, playing loose-limbed piano jazz with a touch of New Orleans.
She never quite seemed to mesh with the Phil. There was an uneasy truce, to be sure: Krall, who has performed with orchestras for years, never could find common ground with conductor Alan Broadbent, her one-time piano teacher. On her own, however, or with her small group, she played with sly humor – dropping the Beatles “Come Together” into an effervescent reading of Irving Berlin’s “Cheek to Cheek,” slipping in a tender “Fly Me to the Moon” to honor Neil Armstrong.
Krall, whose natural inclination is to sing in front of the beat, brings songs an urgency, one matched by her percussive work on the piano, and her band, especially Kariem Riggins on drums, is flexible enough to follow. The evening’s standout was her solo reading of Dylan’s “Simple Twist of Fate,” which entranced the audience with its direct, soulful ache. The orchestra, on the other hand, too often weighted her down, lashing her vocals with cornstarch-thickened strings and ponderous, heaving horns.
Interestingly, Krall seems to be turning away from such settings. Glad Rag Doll, a new take on ’20s and ’30s songs due Oct. 2, finds her working with producer T Bone Burnett, a longtime collaborator of Elvis Costello’s (who she coyly referred to here as “Mr. E.C.” or “my husband”). Perhaps when she returns to promote that album, we’ll have a chance to hear her current interests.