I went to hear Diana Krall and her trio, recording for “Live on Radio 2,” which is scheduled for broadcast on the evening of Monday 6th July.
The gig also coincided with the UK launch of her new album, which is today. The best was kept for last ; and it was VERY good.
At the start of the set, Krall’s expression was- understandably for a live radio recording- one of reticence and of concentration. The effort was going into getting it right rather than being the extrovert. She was setting the levels, her focus was on giving cues, on listening hard.
Plus she admitted to being jet-lagged, and slightly reeling from a crack-of-dawn start. She was coming to terms with the very strange reality indeed, of having appeared on the BBC Andrew Marr show……with, of all people, Gordon Brown …..and Jerry Springer.
The openers were a fast and purposeful Peggy Lee “I love being here with you,” and a more relaxed and in-the-chords “Let’s Fall in Love,” lightly sketched, virtually pedal-free, careful, subtle.
The set, of ten songs in all, included three numbers from the new album: “The Boy (sic) from Ipanema”, a gentle “Quiet Nights/ Corcovado” and a seductively slow Julie London-inspired “You’re my Thrill.”
In these, it was that lower, richer, smokier part of the Krall voice which led. Krall approaches notes from way, way below, then slides up to pitch in a slow controlled updrift: it’s becoming become something of a trademark.
Say what you will, but this smokiness and seductiveness works very well for Krall. You can’t argue with album sales to date of over 14 million. She picks up good songs, and she sings them very well.
But playing the game, being in the production machine means punishing schedules – eg eighteen gigs in June, ten in July, twenty-two in August. Nor can there be much spiritual solace from the pressure to deliver…. from all those management tiers of Universal. And above Universal, the cadres and expert-comptables of French conglomerate Vivendi SA.
Plus, as she explained, in an ideal world, she would rather that her two-and-a-half year-old twins were not forgoing the benefit of their mother’s killer “Wheels on the bus” right now.
But what of Krall the musician? As a pianist she is is a “less-is-more” player. It’s that light Red Garland touch. Plus the Jimmy Rowles influence. Her right foot really only stepped forward for serious pedal duties on the slow solo introductions to ” ‘Deed I Do,” and for the last number, Peggy Lee’s “I Dont Know Enough About You.”
This last number was the highlight, chocks finally off the wheels on that bus, a real freedom in the groove. Guitarist Anthony Wilson picked up a very different vibe and at last played with real authority, and way out of the chords. Robert Hurst on bass, formerly part of Branford Marsalis’ band, and Kareem Wiggins on drums- both classy, solid, kicking up storms throughout – also needed no encouragement whatsoever to swing just that little bit harder. And Krall was at last digging into the Steinway with full arm-weight. Yes, sceptics, that’s jazz.
I can’t resist a couple of random tangentnesses:
RANDOM THOUGHT #1: Krall launched into an “I’m strange” monologue. She justifies her certain dangerous and spooky form of kookiness through coming from Vancouver Island. Those wanting to understand this mentality should get hold of the brilliant crime novels of BC writer William Deverell. Particularly the Arthur Beauchamp novels April Fool and Kill All The Judges.
RANDOM THOUGHT #2: I was moved to sad reflections on hearing Kareem Wiggins, a native of Detroit….. on the eve of General Motors filing for bankruptcy. Mo’town , ghost town….
RANDOM THOUGHT #3: How can Anthony Wilson, still in his 30’s be starting to look like Eric Clapton?