Krall Connects with PdA Audience
by Bernard Perusse
Montreal Gazette, May 7, 2009
When Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of Place des Arts is described as "intimate," it's only by a broad stretch of the word's usual meaning. But some gifted artists have been known to make the 3,000-seat venue seem so.
Still, you might not expect the often reserved Diana Krall to be among the performers who can pull it off.
With her crack trio -- guitarist Anthony Wilson, drummer Jeff Hamilton and bass player Robert Hurst -- and a full orchestra behind her, it was a smiling, outgoing and downright chatty Krall who faced the audience last night. Stories about her family were shared, self-deprecating jokes were casually tossed off and emotional contact was made.
The concert, clocking at just over two hours without intermission, deftly blended the melancholy and the joyful. A mesmerizing version of Joni Mitchell's A Case of You, with Krall alone at the piano, was quickly followed, for example, by a breakneck-speed version of Bob Dorough's Devil May Care, a tour de force for the quartet.
Not that the musicians didn't cook all evening. Krall's playful solo and come-hither vocal in the boudoir ballad Do It Again were marvelous, as was Wilson's cleanly played tightrope walk between lyrical beauty and complete abandon on I Love Being Here With You. The rhythm section of Hamilton and Hurst killed all night, but their finest moment might have been on Peggy Lee's I Don't Know Enough About You. This band seemed to be having fun, as only musicians who are really listening to each other can.
Yet it was the anecdotes and memories that brought much of the warmth: From the unsent letter Krall wrote to Oscar Peterson at 16 to the bus trip with her 2-year old twins, Dexter and Frank, last night, Krall seemed to let her guard down.
Introducing a song that reminded her of her husband, Krall said "...and it's not Pump It Up," before demonstrating a brief bossa nova version of the Elvis Costello classic.
The song was I've Grown Accustomed to His Face, and Krall proved her ever-growing gift as a stylist by making the My Fair Lady classic her own.
The spouse card was amusingly played several times. Recounting a performance for President Barack Obama and a hurried attempt to connect with first lady Michelle over children, she recalled the commander-in-chief's only question: "Your husband is Elvis Costello?"
"That put it all in perspective for me," Krall quipped.
The orchestra, which was there, in large part, to provide the bed of strings for selections from her bossa nova-flavoured new disc, Quiet Nights, visibly moved Krall with its work on Love Letters. "I don't really have to be here, do I?," she said.
Given the connection Krall had established over two hours, that might have been the funniest line of the night.