domingo, 10 de diciembre de 2017

Article: "Krall and company play consummate hosts for banquet of jazzy love songs at Edmonton's Winspear" (

Krall and company play consummate hosts for banquet of jazzy love songs at Edmonton's Winspear

recent celebrations with "so much cake" - Diana Krall

Published on: December 8, 2017 | Last Updated: December 8, 2017 6:59 AM MST

Diana Krall plays at the Winspear Centre on Thursday December 7, 2017 in Edmonton. GREG SOUTHAM / POSTMEDIA

‘Tis the season for socializing, relaxing, imbibing and maybe reflecting a little (but not too much). When you spend the evening with Diana Krall and company you’ll get all that, delivered with the utmost musical expertise, even if your host, the jazz singer and pianist, sometimes seems preoccupied with whether everyone’s glass is full.

Thursday night’s jazzy buffet at the Winspear for a near-sellout crowd of almost 1,800 offered consummate music making from Krall and her exquisite quartet over a single 100-minute set of cocktails that only briefly made the room spin unpredictably in an exciting fashion. We got a hefty splash of swing, some sultry ballads, a pinch of bossa nova, some rootsy melancholy, and finally, a tidbit of holiday confection.

There was no chance of feeling overstuffed on these 15-tunes because Krall follows her recipes carefully. You could argue she’s stingy with the notes on those oh so spare ballads, but more generous adding the right seasoning for swing, somehow finding the right pacing to broach Berlin and Bacharach, Porter and Jobim, Waits and Dylan.

Indeed I Do made a quick, forgettable warm-up tune with everyone getting their minute to make sure instruments were adjusted correctly but they hardly seemed to need it. Fiddler Stuart Duncan, guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist Robert Hurst and drummer Karriem Riggins sounded superb from the first bar. Then it was time for Love, or rather, L-O-V-E, a song that thrives on space and Krall relished spreading it out, dangling a syllable here or repeating a chord there in a masterful slow build.

There would be “a lot of songs about love” she told us before launching into Isn’t It Romantic, another standard from her latest album Turn Up The Quiet. The opening verse was sung with just a delicate guitar backing before the tune got a subtlety satisfying uplift from Hurst’s bass and Riggins’ brushes. Cole Porter’s Night And Day was another showcase for Krall’s smoky, low-key balladry, almost whispered at points until she upped the volume to emphasize a syllable or two.

Diana Krall plays at the Winspear Centre on Thursday December 7, 2017 in Edmonton. GREG SOUTHAM / POSTMEDIA

Blue Skies offered a nod to Thelonious Monk who re-invented it as In Walked Bud, but the next real highlight was Sunny Side Of The Street, set to feature Duncan’s fiddle and Wilson’s guitar, and when they upped the ante to play off each other it was the first time some real spontaneity seeped out.

But that was nothing compared to the evening’s centerpiece. She’s not the only jazz artist to seize upon Tom Waits’ Temptation for a little drama but Krall’s combo, bathed in red light for what felt like 15 minutes, used the number to open up in unexpected ways from its opening off-kilter groove.

Wilson was the instigator, taking up his electric guitar to find something naughty. Then Duncan knocked and picked his fiddle to passionate heights, finally strumming it like a ukulele. Krall was focused on the words off and on but found her own all-too-brief darker moment of pianistic abstraction before the drummer hit a soft, spare solo groove and got the audience to clap. They hung in well too as he played with them, almost fading out altogether before coming back, and the singer’s final lyrical taunt underlined that we’d been somewhere.

Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Quiet Nights was almost soothing after that, another display of the singer’s sultry side before it faded out and East Of The Sun took things back to swing. Krall was openly grasping for ideas before she launched into The Look Of Love, but this arrangement flirted too much with uptempo swing. Just You, Just Me signaled the wind up, reminding us that Duncan calls himself a fiddler (not a violinist) with a solo that could have come from a country swing tune.

Ovation rituals over, the band returned with four encores but before that, there was the only real chat of the show from the Grammy and Juno winning artist, still too shy for her own comfort.

Ms. Krall maintains she’s never felt so relaxed these days and by the end I actually believed her. She joked about how the last few days had been packed with celebrating, her twin sons’ birthday the day before, her wedding anniversary the day before that, family get togethers and “so much cake”. And she painted an amusing picture of what it felt like at home at Christmas to be the pianist on call for family singalongs, thanking the appreciative audience for paying to come out for this night of songs.

She played two Dylan songs. Hinting at country with Wallflowers, and Spanish flavours on This Dream Of You, but they felt a tad hurried. Or was it was just the brash contrast of Gershwin’s ‘S Wonderful that followed? Finally Krall turned the volume down to something quieter to close, going solo for the nostalgic reverie of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

I’ve been to more memorable holiday get togethers, but the music was never this polished.