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Diana Krall at Carnegie Hall, June 24th, 2009: SHE’S BLONDE

Diana Krall: Jazz Superstar, long, blonde, luscious, intimidating, in a black skirt and heels, has turned away from her piano and, there is only one word for it, she is babbling. Ms. Krall is telling us about meeting President Obama at the Lifetime Achievements Awards honoring Stevie Wonder and she is talking to the President and Mrs. Obama at a mile a minute about living in New York, and having twins and both her and husband being on the road and…” The president interrupts her. “Wait a minute, you mean you’re married to Elvis Costello? Do people know about this?” He asks.

It is a disarming moment on a night filled with disarming moments. I have read both Nate Chinen on his blog and Stephen Holden in the New York Times review of Tuesday’s june 23rd (I went the following day) concert by Ms. Krall at Carnegie Hall and all I can say is while she could still be the cool, soft whispering singer these critics discuss and is evident by her new album the lugubrious “Quiet Nights” by the time she hit a Nat King Cole medley at the half way mark, she was bringing down the house. “Chin to Chin” (I am no jazz expert but I always think of Fred Astaire not Nat King Cole) was a raucous fifteen minute blast with Krall pounding the piano and living up to Chinen’s comparison to Oscar Peterson. I have seen her live several times -at this very venue in the summer of 2001- but never with this much sweetness and this much power. It isn’t nerves, this is hardly her first time at the dance, so what it is it?

Here’s one clue. in another rambling, fun, humanizing aside, she tells of her twins singing “The Wheels On the Bus” “Imagine two two and a half year old Elvis’ singing on the top of their lungs…” The mind boggles and Diana is exhausted but the good kind of exhausted, the exhilarated exhausted. Here’s another: Elvis is in the house, taking a day off from his tour and if that isn’t wild enough, her father is in the house as well. “No pressure here,” she says, smiling wildly.

Perhaps no pressure but sure a good enough reason to be happy and a true willingness to share it. This is new for Krall, she used to deal in dancing in the dark; in a quietness we are pushed to share or leave; without the sexual unovocation of her newer work, but seeped in an apathy personified in a disturbing cover of “A Case Of You” . In 2001’s terrific incarnation at Carnegie her husky low voice was all ice and tingle, her version of “Devil May Care” more indifferent than happy-go-lucky, in 2009 it is a joy to hear; she rollicks, the bass is all melody and she is all rhythm and it flies, just flies.

All the Nat King Cole stuff soars as well and while the 41 piece orchestra seem to be there solely to add background mood musak, her three piece band swing like a son of a gun. And sure the “Quiet Nights” stuff doesn’t cut it. On the album, with one or two exceptions, the song choice is too obvious and if live Debbie Reynolds cut every other song to two bars, Ms. Krall couldn’t spit out a syllable in two bars. But she wasn’t resting on “Quiet Nights” tonight. She was celebrating just being giddy with happiness and time after time she allowed us to join her. The reason for the Obama story was because she was about to sing a song that reminded her of his inaugural speech: “Don’t lose your confidence if you slip, be grateful for a pleasant trip…” Consider us picked up.

Nate Chinen’s excellent review: http://thegig.typepad.com/blog/2009/06/in-defense-of-diana.html#more

1 Comment

  1. Michael foy on October 23, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    She is out of this world the best female jazz piano player I’ve ever heard out standing

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