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Concert - Article: DIANA KRALL - Winnipeg - 19.05.2015

Krall croons entertaining history lesson at concert hall

By: Alan Small
Posted: 05/19/2015 11:17 PM

Diana Krall performs at the Centennial Concert Hall Tuesday night.
John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

History lessons are never supposed to be this entertaining.

Diana Krall was the evening's instructor — when she wasn't being the singer/pianist/bandleader/raconteur at the Centennial Concert Hall on Tuesday night.


Diana Krall performs at the Centennial Concert Hall Tuesday. Photo Store

What a journey through the 20th century — not to mention her early years at the keyboard — Krall provided. The Nanaimo, B.C., singer, with help from her cracker-jack five-piece band, was the tour guide on a whistle-stop trip from the early days of jazz, through the war years all the way to the the folk and rock 'n' roll eras of the 1960s and '70s.

Krall kicked the show off with We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye, from her 2012 album Glad Rag Doll, before talk and tunes about the weather took over. Krall and her group arrived in Winnipeg Monday in the midst of May's freak snowstorm, reminding her of her previous visit to the city, during the cold heart of a usual Prairie winter.

"We got here just before they closed the freeway," she recalled.

But Tuesday brought spring back to Winnipeg, and songs of spring emanated from her piano. Songs such as Just Like a Butterfly Caught in the Rain and the sad, slow blues Let it Rain.

The former had some cool guitar and violin interplay by Anthony Wilson and Stuart Duncan that were reminiscent of 1940s jazz sounds of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli.

Krall and company bounced back and forth through the decades the rest of the way, playing jazz standards like Fats Waller's I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter to go along with folk-rock hits like the Mamas & the Papas' California Dreamin', Gordon Lightfoot's If You Could Read My Mind and Jim Croce's Operator.

The group, which also included bassist Dennis Crouch, drummer Karriem Riggins and organist Patrick Warren, showed off their ability on Temptation, a 1987 Tom Waits genre-busting number that was played with surreal flair.

While her group was outstanding, Krall was no slouch either, playing a handful of tunes solo. She reminisced about her teenage years playing in a lounge called the NHL in Nanaimo that was owned by former hockey referee Lloyd Gilmour, where she could play whatever she wanted, as long as the customers asked for it. So Tuesday night she took requests, and playedAs Time Goes By, Let's Face the Music and Dance and one of her standards, Peel Me a Grape.

Later, Boulevard of Broken Dreams and I'm a Little Mixed Up brought the crowd to their feet for a standing ovation. Before the encore Krall kept alluding to a Bob Dylan song throughout the evening, and eventually played Wallflower, the title track from her new album, after a short break. Duncan's bluegrass fiddle proved to be a nice match with Krall's breathy jazz vocals, blurring the lines between musical genres once again.

Shortly thereafter the lesson was over, but the audience appeared ready to listen to some Diana Krall homework after the show.

Twitter: @AlanDSmall