By James Reaney, The London Free Press
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Swinging or sultry, Diana Krall enthralls at Budweiser Gardens
Maybe they should have Diana Krall drop by every time it rains a little in downtown London.
With 1,950 fans at the RBC Theatre at Budweiser Gardens applauding her sultry ballads and pop tunes backed by her band and the Hamilton Philharmonic, the Canadian jazz and pop star responded to Tuesday’s downpour with witty commentary from her piano.
“I’ll be here all night,” Krall said to cheers as she finished a little of Stormy Weather with a flourish at the piano before going into a two-song encore.
Earlier, in the main set, Krall had saluted the storm, which drummed audibly on the downtown arena roof, with an extended stride piano visit to Pennies From Heaven.
That time, Krall got rumbling so furiously at the keyboard, she found a note or chord that didn’t agree with her and said a bad word before she started to sing Just You, Just Me as her band joined in. That tune had fine solos from violinist Stuart Duncan, who was stellar all night, and drummer Karriem Riggins, who pretty much stayed away from his cymbals. Maybe Riggins didn’t want to add to the sense of splash.
The Nanaimo, B.C.-raised star signed off with a two-song encore. Departure Bay was the personal choice, about Krall’s growing up complete with what looked to be family images on the big screen behind her.
The finale was Quiet Nights, one of her biggest hits from Brazil, with the orchestra adding lush support.
Krall is touring to support her recent album Wallflower, a collection of pop songs with a Bob Dylan title tune.
That didn’t keep Krall from romancing such icons of much earlier decades, such as 1920s’ trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke and French-based jazz aces Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, who came to the fore in the 1930s.
Krall’s guitarist, Anthony Wilson, played Reinhardt on some tunes to Duncan’s Grappelli when Krall wanted an intimate arrangement to evoke that duo’s guitar-violin vibe.
She also has an orchestra to back her as needed.
“We’ve been playing together since 2009. So we’re a band up here,” Krall said of the players from the Hamilton Philharmonic who joined her touring band.
The crowd applauded the orchestral endorsement and Krall’s somewhat nervous chatter about the famous arrangers whose work the Hamilton orchestra, conducted by Chris Walden, was channelling.
“I used to listen to their music on records. You get to hear it live. I don’t even need to be here,” Krall said saluting such arrangers as Claus Ogerman and Johnny Mandel. “I don’t even have to be here … but I’m glad I am.”
Krall introduced her excellent band — bassist Crouch, who took several strong solos, Riggins , keyboard player Patrick Warren, Wilson and Duncan — early in the night.
Tuesday’s concert showed Krall’s range as she moved back and forth from small band to full orchestral treatments. Vocal and piano stars who visit pop’s California Dreamin’, jazz such as Let’s Fall In Love and a Western swing-styled I’m A Little Mixed Up will always be in short supply.
Walden contributed a lovely arrangement of Wallflower and a gesture at the arena ceiling as if he were trying to still the rain.
Krall and the players had battled the arena’s mechanical systems which kept up a steady hiss through the quiet moments early on. The hiss was drowned out by the rain.
The star asked first if the noise might be the Zamboni and then if it were the rain. “I’m from British Columbia. I feel at home,” Krall said.