The many faces of stylish Diana Krall
By Don Heckman
There were many aspects of Diana Krall roving the Hollywood Bowl stage Saturday night during the jazz diva's first Southland appearance since the birth, nearly a year ago, of her twin sons, with husband Elvis Costello.
The first was that of a stand-up, big band singer, romping through such standards as "Day In, Day Out" and "Something's Gotta Give" backed by the brassy swing of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Next up -- the more familiar Krall manifestation -- performing in far more subtle, laid-back fashion as a singing pianist, backed by guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton, illuminating "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Exactly Like You" and "I'll String Along With You."
Then there was the gregarious Krall, a fairly recent development, joking with the enthusiastic crowd of more than 15,000, occasionally slipping too easily from sardonic to sarcastic. Perhaps most fascinating of all, there was the Krall who brings extraordinary musical and narrative insights to music generally associated with the pop world: a stunning take on a song she has virtually made her own, Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You," and the Bee Gees' "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?"
Krall did it all with style and panache in an impressive display of musical versatility. The sometimes tentative young Canadian artist of the mid-'90s, who nonetheless revitalized the craft of jazz singing, has been transformed into a full-service talent.
Fortunately, in the process of building programs diverse enough for appearances at big venues such as the Bowl, she's still in touch with the interpretive sensitivity of early performances, manifest impressively in her solo numbers and her interaction with guitarist Wilson. All was good news for fans of Krall's most admirable skills: the utterly gripping interpretive sensitivity she brought to numbers such as "A Case of You" and the buoyant, hard-driving swing she generates in Nat King Cole-inspired tunes such as "Deed I Do."