Diana Krall Live in Rio, Blu-ray (2009)

by | May 30, 2009 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Diana Krall Live in Rio, Blu-ray (2009)

Performers: Diana Krall, vocals & piano; John Clayton, bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums; Anthony Wilson, guitar; Paulinho DaCosta, percussion; The Rio De Janeiro Orchestra cond by Ruria Duprat
Selections: I Love Being Here With You,  Let’s Fall in Love,  Where or When,  Too Marvelous for Words,  I’ve Grown Accustomed to His 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 from Ipanema,  I Don’t Know Enough About You,  S’Wonderful,  Exactly Like You 
Studio: Eagle Vision HD [Release date: May 26, 09]
Video: 16:9 color 1080i HD
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, DD 5.1, PCM stereo
Extras: Rooftop Session; Quiet Conversations; Interviews; The Boy from Ipanema  (promo film with Krall vocal)
Length: 149 minutes
Rating: *****

This long and lovely concert video – recorded live at Vivo Rio in Rio – has completely changed my impression of Diana Krall. She was not my favorite female jazz vocalist and I admit I felt she was trading primarily on her great beauty and the sexiness of her song delivery. In one of the bonus features her producer Tommy LiPuma says he feels she has matured in many ways and is now better than ever. After all, her marriage to Elvis Costello has resulted in two children and she’s slightly less svelt-looking than in previous videos. I had forgotten that Krall got her start in jazz as a strictly instrumental pianist, trying to emulate Monte Alexander. Her piano solos in this concert are certainly well beyond what one would hear from most such celebrity vocalists. And guitarist Anthony Wilson’s and bassist John Clayton’s solos are equally exciting.

The selection of the 18 songs is extremely varied, and they’re not all of the type that seems designed for her patented sexy sophisticated delivery.  A couple show her connections to her hero – who also began as a strictly jazz pianist and later was talked into doing vocals – Nat “King” Cole. Her version of his Frim Fram Sauce is a kick. The first and major part of the program are selections from the Great American Songbook and other classics. Then Kral swings into four bossa nova numbers, which receive a most welcoming reaction from the Brazilian audience. They sing along in Portuguese with her English lyrics on three of them, but on Este Seu Olhar they wig out because she sings that tune in Portuguese. (Would have been nice to have a translation.) Krall explains after that she finds it easier to sing in that language than to speak it.  It did seem a bit odd that after the great audience connection with the four bossa nova tunes the performers came back with three American classics – although her version of S’Wonderful is probably the most heartfelt I have ever heard of this Gershwin classic.

The orchestral arrangements are by the famed Claus Ogerman, and the excellent orchestral backing is heard on something like alternate tunes, with Krall’s quintet soloing on the others. On some of the tunes Krall restricts her piano contributions to her right hand only, while delivering her vocals with legs crossed and her upper foot keeping time. Even when playing with both hands, her left doesn’t seem up to the improvisational chops of her right. The actual shots of the performers are interspersed with travelogue-type shots of Rio and environs.  Many of these are collected together in the promotional film in the extras to The Boy From Ipanema. The interviews are interesting, and in the Rooftop Session we have several tunes quietly and informally sung by Kral at a rooftop restaurant with a view of Sugar Loaf in the background.  Her drummer Jeff Hamilton plays with his brushes on a large serving plate on his knees. One sees in the shots of the audience several mike stands placed among them, and these obviously come into use for the audience reactions and joining along on some of the tunes, which has a strong emotional appeal.  They provide a more immersive surround effect than one gets with most such video concerts.  Altogether this is a terrific musical experience that should have the widest appeal.

 – John Henry

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