Appellate Judge James A. Stewart wants a recipe for Frim-Fram Sauce.
"She's found a personal connection to every song that we're playing."—guitar player, Anthony Wilson
When you hear Diana Krall sing, her breathy voice makes lyrics like, "Someone to hold me tight, that would be very nice" sound like a personal invitation. If you close your eyes, it feels like she's serenading you, and you alone. Talk about personal connections. Listening to the crowd's appreciative but respectful applause and cheers as she started playing "So Nice" on the piano, it seems a lot of Krall fans feel the same way.
Watching her up close in this two-disc Diana Krall: Live in Rio: Special Edition is a different experience, though. Every once in a while, as I watched Krall's intense performance, her face contorting with the music as she sang and played piano, I felt that her love might not be for the fans or even her husband, rocker Elvis Costello (even though she dedicates "I've Grown Accustomed to His Face" to him), but for the music itself. Songs like "Let's Fall in Love" and "Too Marvelous for Words" look like love letters to the jazz and standards she plays. Here and elsewhere, Krall fondly recalls encountering these songs as a teen pianist, and one can hear the decades of tradition in her voice. Now that she's got her hands on them, she wants to make sure you love them, too.
The main attraction here is a concert at Vivo Rio in Brazil, which provides nearly two hours of standards interspersed with travelogue visions of Rio de Janeiro. While Krall puts a lot of energy into numbers like "Frim Fram Sauce" and "I Don't Know Enough About You," her delivery leans toward a slower, romantic thoughtfulness with songs like "Quiet Nights" and "S'Wonderful." She also honors Rio with "The Boy From Ipanema" and "Este Seu Olhar." Krall works in lots of opportunities to show off her piano prowess with lengthy instrumental interludes. The camera tends to linger on her fingers as they touch the keys in these. If you're paying attention, you'll notice that the band behind her is damn good, too.
Krall notes that she hasn't recorded "Cheek to Cheek" before, but most of the songs will be as familiar to Krall fans as they are to fans of the standards. Getting to see Krall in action—funny faces and all—as she performs "Where or When," "Walk on By," "You're My Thrill," "Let's Face the Music and Dance," "Every Time We Say Goodbye," and "Exactly Like You" is a treat. If you consider that you probably wouldn't see her face as she sings and plays the piano, it's even more so.
The performance looks good for the most part, free of bleeding, flaring, or other problems you might notice in a live concert video. The lights do have an eerie blue glow at times as they shine on John Clayton on acoustic bass, Paulinho da Costa on percussion, Jeff Hamilton on drums, and Anthony Wilson on guitar, while Krall herself gets to glow with Garbo-like lighting. The Dolby surround sounds great.
Disc Two features excerpts from several other sessions in Toronto, Madrid, Lisbon, and Rio. While there are a few songs here that aren't reprised from the Rio concert ("Deed I Do," "A Case of You," and "P.S. I Love You"), the highlight is "The Rio Rooftop Session," which features four songs she did while sitting in a rooftop nightclub. It's informal, backed up by guitar, as she sings for a few friends. Oddly, it appears that most of the clubgoers are oblivious to her presence. Krall shines in the incongruous setting, looking like she's just having fun. I'll note that the Madrid and Lisbon excerpts are only in Dolby stereo, not surround.
Other extras include conversations with Krall and her band about her music and her early career, and two music videos. Both videos capture an aspect of Rio through images of the city: "The Boy From Ipanema" has a bustling urban excitement, while "Quiet Nights" shows gardens, ponds, and other quiet spaces.
Not only do you get to hear some of Krall's greatest hits, but you also get to see her in a fresh light. If you're a Krall fan, you'll want to get this. I'm not too into double dips, so I won't call this one a must if you already have the previous release (reviewed here by Jim Thomas), but if you're buying fresh, that rooftop session is worth a few extra bucks.
Not guilty. You could grow accustomed to seeing Diana Krall's funny faces as
she performs on DVD.
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