[Dixielandjazz] Diana Krall In San Francisco

TCASHWIGG at aol.com TCASHWIGG at aol.com
Thu Jul 22 11:32:57 PDT 2004

By Joe Brown  S.F. Chronicle
July 22, 2004

Krall sleepwalks through Gloomy Set:

Sulky, sloppy, sarcastic and strangely out of it, Diana Krall's Tuesday night 
performance at Davies Symphony Hall was so odd it was often comic.  At times 
it seemed as if it must be a put-on, at others as if Krall was out to win the 
title of the Courtney Love of Jazz.

Perhaps marriage doesn't agree with her (Krall married rock star Elvis 
Costello in December).  Or maybe the platinum selling pianist and singer is just 
tired of touring.  Whatever the cause (her attitude throughout the show was a 
distinct "whatever"), Krall followed a determinedly downbeat set list, with most 
of the lyrics focusing on failed love or dreary road weariness.

It was like an expensive, bizarre bait and switch: Krall, who has played on 
her leggy blond glamour in the past, even looked markedly different, almost 
confrontationally drab.    Draped like furniture in an aqua poncho over jeans and 
heels, curving like a kidney bean into the keys, she rarely smiled, hiding 
her face behind her long Linda McCartney-circa-'74- style shag.

She was stalwartly supported throughout by a chops-laden trio of pros: 
Anthony Wilson on eloquent hollow-body electric guitar; Robert Hurst on nimble, 
supple standup bass; and the precise Peter Erskine on drums.  They warmed up with 
a skittering instrumental workout inspired by Art Blakey, which Krall called 
"I don't know" -- she hasn't gotten around to naming it.

Krall built her career on well-chosen standards, but Costello reportedly has 
encouraged Krall's songwriting, and the show sported a handful of 
Costello-Krall originals, patterned rather obviously after Joni Mitchell, who Krall nodded 
to with a respectful cover of "Black Crow" complete with pecking percussion 
on the piano strings.

>From her new album "The Girl in the Other Room," Krall played the noirish 
title track, the rambling and sophomoric "abandoned Masquerade," and "I'm Coming 
Through," which took more than a sip of Jobim's "Waters of March."

The very last song of the evening was also its high point, Krall's own 
"Departure Bay," an extended austere meditation on her home in British Columbia -- 
she might join the ranks of confessional singer songwriters after all.

Her voice--sandpapered silk, Shirley Horn-slow, a kind of distaff Chet Baker 
-- was always right there, effortlessly straddling the divide between jazz and 
classic pop on numbers like a bossa-beat "Let's Face the Music and Dance."  
And though her energetic piano technique veered between playful and haphazard, 
Krall proved herself an unpredictable player, with nods to Bill Evans and 
Vince Guaraldi, dramatizing passages with her trademark explosive chord clusters.  
She tackled Tom Waits "Temptation," which dwindled weirdly into a jammy, 
almost inaudible close, as if she was going to drift into the Dead's "Dark Star." 

But the endless bummer of this erratic evening eventually tried the patience 
of an audience that had come to adore.  "Give me a break, baby!" one fellow 
shouted from an upper tier after Krall couldn't remember who wrote "I'll String 
Along With You," which ended up on the soundtrack to "The Cooler."  In answer, 
Krall sarcastically noodled a lengthy solo piano version of "Don't Fence Me 
In," while her band stood around waiting through her indulgence.  (Later she 
would start, and then flub, a song she's played many times before, ironically, 
Mose Allison's "Your Mind is on Vacation.")

Krall seemed intent on being shed of her easy-listening label and smooth jazz 
fans.  And the crowd (with top ticket price of $95.00) had thinned visibly by 
the middle of the 90 minute set.  The entertainer almost perversely denied 
the crowd what they wanted.  "Peel Me A Grape!" one fan finally begged from the 
balcony toward the end of the evening.  "No...I can't," Krall sighed, refusing 
to play the hit, then tried to joke her way out of it.   "You pay theses 
prices, and you think you can hear whatever you want."

After the unnecessarily obligatory standing ovation (politeness is good, San 
Francisco, but show some discernment!), Krall came out alone and encored with 
rote, spartan versions of "'S Wonderful" and "Frim Fram Sauce," standards she 
could clearly do in her sleep, which she very nearly did.

Well at least he spelled her name right.


Tom Wiggins

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