Live Jazz: Diana Krall at the Hollywood Bowl

By Don Heckman

Diana Krall’s performance Friday before a near capacity crowd at the Hollywood Bowl — the first of two nights in a row at the 18,000 seat venue — was an impressive affirmation of the major star she has become. It was also a remarkable accomplishment for an artist who, fifteen or so years ago, once remarked — half jokingly, to be sure, — that she’d be happy to have a regular weekend gig at at a Holiday Inn.

diana_krall piano
Photo by Bill King

The program she offered — backed by guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist Robert Hurst and drummer Jeff Hamilton, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Alan Broadbent — was a Readers Digest selection from her hit albums of the past decade.

Krall’s most important creative assets are numerous: her capacity to make the most of the subtle connections between her singing and her piano; her understanding of story telling as a musical expression; the caressingly cool and mellow sound of her voice; the irresistible under current of rhythmic lift that is ever present in her phrasing.

All those qualities, and more, were applied to a program that embraced everything from her usual opening number, “I Love Being Here with You” to the whimsical “Frim Fram Sauce” and “The Boy From Ipanema” (from her latest CD, Quiet Nights, She cranked up the blonde bombshell sex appeal with “Do It Again,” then shifted gears into the poignant intimacy of Gordon Jenkins and Johnny Mercer’s WW II classic, “P.S. I Love You.” In between numbers, she offered a few humorous quips with the sort of comfortable ease with an audience that was not always present in her more youthful performances. But she’s come a long way since then.

There was, in fact, only one noticeable flaw that surfaced in an otherwise convincing musical offering. And that was Krall’s tendency to employ long, back-of-the-throat notes — emitted with a kind of “uhhhhhhhh” sound. They’ve always been a colorful part of her interpretive tools, but — for this performance, at least — they moved too far into the front and center of her singing, intruding upon the otherwise rich palette of Krall vocal timbres.

That carp aside, Krall’s readings — within the comfortable surroundings of her quartet, as well as the lush orchestral cushioning provided by the arrangements of Johnny Mandel and Claus Oberman — were the work of a mature and persuasive musical artist.

The opening half of the program featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Benjamin Wallfisch, began with a pair of works by Mexican composer Arturo Márquez. Although both were performed with enthusiasm, the intensely rhythmic passages of Danzón No 2, in particular, seemed to elude the crisply integrated articulation they required. Morton Gould’s high spirited orchestrations of Juan Tizol’s Caravan and Ernesto Lecuona’s Malagueña received more successful treatment.

4 thoughts on “Live Jazz: Diana Krall at the Hollywood Bowl

  1. Nice music clip – until about 1 minute in, when I had to stop watching. Where did this lame audience come from, with the loud clapping on the WRONG BEAT? Please, don’t tell me they were Americans (but I bet they were).


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