All About Jazz

Home » Articles » First Time I Saw

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Diana Krall

Rob Mariani By

Sign in to view read count
This girl probably could have made it on looks, but in the dark studio, nobody sees that you
The twilight skies over the aged wood shingled roofs at the Newport Tennis Hall of Fame were looking ominous. The air was damp and flecks of rain started and stopped as we walked into the beautiful Stanford White-designed courtyard with its hanging flowerpots and dark green shutters. It was like traveling back to another era of summery charm and Victorian opulence. The seats had been set up on one of the famed plush grass courts. The sight lines to the center stage were all pretty good. And the sound system this Friday night, the first of the Newport Jazz Festival 2001, was as they say, "close enough for jazz.

Given the fact that drummer Roy Haynes, at 75 is a certifiable jazz legend, and has earned the status of headliner if anyone has, it would seem only right that the relative newcomer, singer/pianist, Diana Krall, should open for him. The promoters, however, saw it differently. Diana Krall is a rising star with a couple of hit CDs and a big following among both jazz and pop fans. She's so gorgeous that people buy her recordings for the cover photos alone. She's a solid box office draw with a wider audience than the innovative Mr. Haynes will ever have. So he opens and she headlines.

Although Haynes's edgy young quartet received a polite welcome, it was clear this crowd was here for the girl singer. Haynes acknowledged the applause and did not say anything about the glamorous headliner. He just got behind his drum kit and played.

Haynes is definitely a drummer's drummer. His phrasing, his time feeling and his overall conception are all totally original. He leaves plenty of gaps for you to fill in; and fills in gaps you didn't even know were there. And none of that originality has waned after all these years. In fact, he is even more energetic and inventive than ever. The trouble seems to be that now Haynes really does want to dazzle you. And so he does. Then he be- dazzles you, and then he re-be-dazzles you. About mid-way into the third tune, I found myself wishing he would just settle into the groove for a few choruses. After a couple of tunes, the applause was still polite but less than overwhelming. Haynes stood up and waved his arms, soliciting a bigger response, which he got. But the fact that he had to "ask for it probably pissed him off.

As the sky continued to threaten rain, Diana Krall came out on the stage looking tall and lanky and run-me-over-gorgeous in a little low-cut black dress that gave new meaning to the word "alluring. One of the things that makes Krall so sexy is that she seems slightly uncomfortable with her imposing stature. She is constantly shifting her weight and sweeping her hair. She sits down at the piano, crosses and uncrosses her legs, flips her blond mane back from her face yet again, and starts to play. Suddenly her angular shoulders drop and she's relaxed and completely comfortable. Her long tapered fingers find the music in the piano keys and draw it out. She's not just a tinkler. She really plays. Big, sensuous left-hand chords. Smart, interesting right-hand figures. She's serious, nothing show-offy.

Her debut CD was a tribute to the great Nat Cole, and like her idol, Krall is as excellent a pianist as she is a singer. After a very up-tempo version of "I Love Being Here With You, she had the crowd in the palm of her hand. Still when she was not playing, she lapsed into the slightly nervous, awkwardly tall girl again. Holding her hair back to one side, looking around the stage distractedly, she told the appreciative crowd that she'd just had her wisdom teeth out two days ago. From a distance at least, there were no signs of puffiness in her face. And the operation did not seem to hinder her way with a lyric in the least. Krall sat back down and gave a relaxed, sexy rendition of "I've Got You Under My Skin that would have made Cole Porter himself stand up and wave his hanky. From the piano bench she took the mike and informed us that her guitarist, Dan Fanly, was absent because he'd been stuck on the tarmac at the Washington, D.C. airport. His absence didn't seem to affect Krall's performance so far, and we got perhaps slightly longer piano solos, which were a treat. She has great technique, interesting phrasing and the girl can swing.

Mid-way through the set, Fanly showed up and the trio became a tight, cohesive quartet. The guitarist turned in some excellent solo work, seemingly unaffected by the travel mishap, and it was clear that he and Krall had a nice rapport. But it was the girl singer they'd come to see and Krall definitely gave them their money's worth.


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read The Great, Late Show with Dakota Staton First Time I Saw
The Great, Late Show with Dakota Staton
by Rob Mariani
Published: November 17, 2006
Read Betty Carter Remembered First Time I Saw
Betty Carter Remembered
by Dee Dee McNeil
Published: May 13, 2006
Read Betty Carter: Along Came Betty First Time I Saw
Betty Carter: Along Came Betty
by Rob Mariani
Published: May 13, 2006
Read Does Anybody Here Remember Joe? First Time I Saw
Does Anybody Here Remember Joe?
by Craig M. Cortello
Published: April 26, 2006
Read Coda For Elvin First Time I Saw
Coda For Elvin
by Rob Mariani
Published: April 2, 2004
Read "Andreas Varady: Guitar Wizard On The Rise" Interviews Andreas Varady: Guitar Wizard On The Rise
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: June 18, 2018
Read "Mondo Jazz: Traveling (Part 1)" Mixcloud Mondo Jazz: Traveling (Part 1)
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: December 24, 2017
Read "Open Land: Meeting John Abercrombie" DVD/Film Reviews Open Land: Meeting John Abercrombie
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 8, 2018
Read "Gabrielle Stravelli at The 75 Club" Live Reviews Gabrielle Stravelli at The 75 Club
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 21, 2017
Read "Holiday 2017 I – Georg Frederic Handel’s "Messiah"" Bailey's Bundles Holiday 2017 I – Georg Frederic Handel’s...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 2, 2017
Read "On Stage at JALC: Paul Jost" Profiles On Stage at JALC: Paul Jost
by Suzanne Lorge
Published: June 23, 2018