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Article: "Concert review: DIANA KRALL gave her all Saturday night at the NAC" (

Concert review: Diana Krall gave her all Saturday night at the NAC

The leading vocalist in jazz demonstrated her emotional and artistic range during a generous two-hour concert Saturday night in Ottawa.

More from Peter Hum

Published on: December 3, 2017 | Last Updated: December 4, 2017 10:32 AM EST

Diana Krall at the National Arts Centre, Dec. 1/17. DAN NAWROCKI

Diana Krall
National Arts Centre, Southam Hall

Reviewed Saturday night

From sultry and swinging to goofy and giggling to heartfelt and moving, Diana Krall gave her all at the National Arts Centre Saturday night during her two-hour concert.

While the concert drew substantially on songs from from Krall’s latest record, the award-winning and easy-on-the-ears Turn Up The Quiet, the all-Canadian but international jazz star presented a wider swath of music and emotions to the crowd that packed Southam Hall for the second of Krall’s two nights in Ottawa.

Here’s the set list for the show:

‘Deed I Do


Christmas Time is Here/Isn’t It Romantic

Night and Day

Blue Skies


On The Sunny Side of the Street

A Case of You/River


I Don’t Know Enough About You

Just You, Just Me


The Look of Love

S’Wonderful/East of the Sun

The Dream of You

Departure Bay

Compared to the recorded versions, the performances in Ottawa opened up considerably with extended solos, satisfying music fans who came for instrumental thrills and not just Krall’s smooth but compelling singing.

In particular, every time that guitarist Anthony Wilson, one of four ace American musicians in Krall’s touring band, stepped forward, he reliably contributed something dazzling, whether it was a gorgeous introduction or an improvised solo filled with ornate but wonderfully developed melodies.

Guitarist Anthony Wilson at Diana Krall’s Dec. 1/17 concert at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa DAN NAWROCKI

Wilson also played a trickster’s role in the night’s least scripted moment. Introducing the tuneIsn’t It Romantic by himself, Wilson played Christmas Time Is Here, the beloved Vince Guaraldi-penned classic from A Charlie Brown Christmas, so elegantly that Krall asked him to prolong his efforts. But the clever segue into Isn’t It Romantic was such that it left Krall momentarily and disarmingly at sea. “How does the song go, I forget?” she cracked. “Is that the right key?” A few bars later, she had fully recovered, casting a dreamy spell on the slow song.

Listeners who came to hear in-the-tradition, swinging jazz were well-served with sturdy, well-explored versions of Deed I Do, L-O-V-E, East Of The Sun, Blue Skies, On The Sunny Side of the Street, I Don’t Know Enough About You.

For jazz aficionados, there were cues from Krall that for all her millions of albums sold to crossover fans, she was still one of them. She enjoyed slipping in wry quotes of other songs in her piano solos, from a Charlie Parker blues head to Ding Dong Merrily On High. Her arrangement ofBlue Skies liberally cited jazz piano icon Thelonious Monk’s In Walked Bud, with which it shares a chord progression. While announcing, Krall gave a shout out to a photo of Count Basie that’s backstage at the NAC.

Jazz-wise, the big test of a night, given its tempo alone, was a light-speed rendition of Just You, Just Me. Bassist Robert Hurst cruised through a wily, walking solo. Violinist Stuart Duncan, who soloed a little more sparingly, pulled out the stops on that tune, which was one of his two star turns.

The other came in the band’s epic run through Tom Waits’ Temptation, which also featured an enthralling Wilson solo on solid-body guitar and a powerful solo by drummer Karriem Riggins, during which his bandmates encouraged the audience to spur him on with some well-placed handclaps.

Drummer Karriem Riggins at Diana Krall’s Dec. 1/17 concert at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa DAN NAWROCKI

Of course, Krall was not to be overshadowed by her massively talented bandmates. In the middle of her concert, her solo medley of Joni Mitchell’s A Case Of You and River was riveting. It was clear that Krall was digging deep artistically, finding new and personal ways to sing and play those pieces for which the bar is very, very high.

She was just as strong at the end of the night, when the generous encore (which had begun with a lightly funkified version of The Look Of Love) finished with the one-two punch of Bob Dylan’s The Dream of You and Krall’s own composition Departure Bay, an autobiographical ode that nods poignantly to the part of Vancouver Island where she is from and to the life Krall led before she became a global celebrity.

For all the restaurants and dinner parties that have used Krall’s albums as background music, and after a long set with much that was breezy, upbeat and entertaining, the concert’s last two songs made clear that Krall’s a formidable artist too.

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