Diana Krall: Live in Rio

C. Michael Bailey By

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Diana Krall
Live In Rio
Eagle Eye Productions

There are some music critics who will fault a successful artist for "selling out," for appealing to the lowest common denominator with music that is either highly processed or mediocre for the sake of not being offensive (read that, misunderstood). Such criticism has been leveled at Canadian pianist and singer Diana Krall, who by any standards of success is a rock star in the world of jazz—and it's true, Krall takes absolutely no artistic chances, choosing rather to perform mainstream jazz vocal music superbly well. But that is her charm. Krall's conservative approach has led her to wide crossover appeal and matching commercial success since her debut in 1993.

Live In Rio is Krall's DVD companion to her recently released bossa nova recording, Quiet Nights (Verve, 2009). It captures Krall and her long time band of bassist John Clayton, guitarist Anthony Wilson and drummer Jeff Hamilton, augmented by percussionist Paulinho DaCosta, performing at the Vivo Rio in Rio De Janeiro in November 2008. The performance was also supported by the Rio De Janeiro Orchestra under the direction of Ruria Duprat.

Apparent from the start of the show is the affectionate rapport between Krall and her Brazilian audience. It is obvious that Krall and company enjoy performing for the Rio crowd and that the Rio crowd enjoy being performed for. Also apparent is Krall's rapport with her band, all members smiling at one another. Krall's performance betrays her preparations for Quiet Nights with the performance of several songs from the then unreleased album. These are sprinkled among her typical repertoire of ballads and upbeats.

Krall opens with a frisky "I Love Being Here With You" and remains in this vein until bossa-ing it up with the Hal David/Burt Bacharach classic "Walk On By." This introduces the scaffolding performances of the show, Krall's oft-performed "Frim Fram Sauce," taken at a quick clip, and her newly arranged reading of Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek." On these two pieces Krall earns her living playing, singing and soloing with that creative efficiency she has become known for. So urgent is her performance that the humid Rio night glows on her, indicating just how special this pairing was.

For the Brazilian audience, the performance peaks with the trilogy of "Quiet Nights," "Este Seu Olhar" and "The Boy from Ipanema," all delivered with Krall's relaxed and breathy sexiness. Here she is one with the audience, who she encourages to sing along. Wilson's piquant guitar playing is here best realized, his sensitive soloing and accompaniment well suited for this swaying material. Clayton and Hamilton are impeccable, as always.

One writer in the blogosphere takes Krall and company to task for having aged since the mid-1990s. While it is sad that youth is not a continuing state of affairs, it is nice to see the beautiful and talented Krall in full maturity. Krall is not the be all and end all. Dena DeRose is a better singer and Patti Wicks a better pianist. But, while she may not blaze any creative jazz trails, Krall's intelligent and informed piano playing and her unique timing and delivery will have her remaining the star she is in her proper place in the musical heavens.

Tracks: I Love Being Here With You; Let's Fall in Love; Where Or When; Too Marvelous for Words; I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face; Walk On By; Frim Fram Sauce; Cheek to Cheek; You're My Thrill; Let's Face the Music and Dance; Every time We Say GoodBye; So Nice; Quiet Nights; Este Seu Olhar; The Boy form Impanema; I Don't Know Enough About You; S'Wonderful; Exactly Like You.

Personnel: Diana Krall: piano, vocals; John Clayton: bass; Jeff Hamilton: drums; Anthony Wilson: guitar; Paulinho DaCosta: percussion; Claus Ogerman: arrangements; Ruria Duprat: conductor; The Rio De Janeiro Orchestra.

Production Notes: 135 minutes. Recorded November 2008 at Vivo Rio in Rio De Janerio, Brazil. Extras: conversations with the musicians and the promotional film - The Boy from Impanema.

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