Music Reviews

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The Hollywood Bowl
Friday, Aug. 17


Seeing the great Diana Krall again, now that she's a mother, is a real kick in the head, as Dean Martin used to say.

And the way she talked about maternity would have gone right over with the Rat Pack.

"Been away for a while," she said from her chosen refuge on the piano bench. "Had two babies -- at the same time." Bada bing!

On the road since mid-July, she brought along her twin boys, Dexter Henry Lorcan and Frank Harlan James, who were born in December. "Singing 'The wheels on the bus go round and round' for 18 hours a day. ..." Bada bing!

She shook her head.

"Bein' a mom," she went on, "is the best thing that ever happened to me. Who needs sleep?"

Perhaps it's a little too magnanimous to say that Krall is the best thing that ever happened to American song, but it seemed that way this night as she applied her abundant musicianship to her classic lyric repertoire.

On "How Insensitive" and "I'll String Along With You," she made every syllable into a gleaming or glowing or whispered or pastel thing, gathering them all into a touching but understated reach for the heart.

Her timing was exquisite, her phrasing Lesterian. The audience, many of whom knew who Lester Young was, nestled into her pocket.

But mama really started coming back home on the up-tempo numbers like "From This Moment On" or "Devil May Care," where she joined the unsurpassed Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra for a romp along the race course.

It felt like a place in her heart opened up when she took her rightful spot as one of the boys in the band. She burned them right down the middle like a tickler from a New Orleans whorehouse, showing no hint of fear of the bad cats up there like trumpet player Bijon Watson, trombonist George Bohanon and saxophonists Charles Owens and Ricky Woodard.

She got into some locked hands stuff that took you back to the days of Milt Buckner, and in between, she dropped into the pianissimo sector for some Teddy Wilson licks. Every once in a while, guitarist Anthony Wilson threw in some commanding solo passages, sometimes very pretty, sometimes very pretty and quite hot.

He delighted Krall and vice versa on the quartet pieces, where bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Clayton joined them to enlarge the sound and the understanding.

Gone is the glamour girl Diana with her long eyelashes and her sultry come-on. On this night she was up there in her jeans and stilletos and a designer silk smock, squaring off like Holly Hunter on "Saving Grace," with an occasional curl of the lip that said stone street.

"I'm Walkin' " was the closer, and on her street it was not so much a walk as a hop, skip and a jump with that big band screaming behind her.

And it brought the 11,600 listeners to their feet for a standing ovation. Double bada bing.
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