After an affectionate introduction by Cleveland’s own Tommy LiPuma, sheer elegance took the stage at the State Theatre Saturday night in the form of sultry singer-pianist Diana Krall and her accompanying trio. She then sat poised all evening along side her Steinway and proceeded to entrance the audience, bringing us along on her journey through her take on jazz from the early twentieth century and more. Her inspiration came from jazz legends like Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Nat King Cole and Carmen McCrae. No one digs deeper into a song and pulls out the emotion, one velvet note at a time, like she does in her super-slow and seductive version of songs like I’ll String Along with You. She also strayed into some of her newer songs with latin/Brazilian tempos as in passionate Quiet Nights.
The high point of the evening was right in the middle the act. The trio left the stage, the lights were lowered even more and the spotlight was on her alone. Diana Krall proceeded to give the audience and incredibly intimate experience. Just her luxurious voice, the piano, and about three thousand people. The audience was mesmerized.
In between songs Diana Krall shared a few satirical quips and personal tidbits about herself and her relationships. She spoke of her years of working with and developing a fondness for her producer Tommy LiPuma and his family. We saw some evidence of how this glamorous woman is a lot like the rest of us at home when she shared how her twin five-year -old boys have her playing the referee most days. She showed a funny side when sharing how being married to her rock star husband, Elvis Costello, as she put it “Doesn’t suck”. Ms Krall gushed over Tri-C’s Tommy LiPuma Creative Arts Center and compared it with her experience growing up in rural British Columbia, Canada and the lack of resources for a budding artist there. She even shared the swankiest version I ever heard of what is typically considered a cowboy melody, Don’t Fence Me In, which is her Mom’s favorite song. The audience sat silent, hanging on every word and note.
A stellar trio who have their own long list of accolades accompanied her. Detroit native, Drummer Karriem Riggins developed his craft playing with the likes of Betty Carter, Ray Brown and Oscar Peterson. Guitarist Anthony Wilson is also an arranger and composer and has eight critically-acclaimed solo albums under his belt. Emmy and Grammy winner, basist Robert Hurst has released a number of successful albums as well.
This weekend’s concert was part of Tri-C JazzFest and the first time Ms. Krall graced Cleveland with her sophistication since 2004. Eight years is way too long to wait for Diana Krall.