Concert Review

Dianna Krall jazzes up Ra’anana, leaving politics aside.

Krall 311 (photo credit: Chris Govias)
Krall 311
(photo credit: Chris Govias)
It takes a singular talent for a singer to perform outdoors in Ra’anana on a sweaty, muggy evening and make the audience feel as if they were in an air conditioned club, listening to cool jazz amid the tinkle of ice cubes in a glass.
It also takes a singular talent for the wife of Elvis Costello, the singer who dissed the country a few months back by refusing to perform here on ‘political grounds,’ to come and play in such a way that people no longer wished a pox on the Costello house, simply because she lives in that house.
Diana Krall has that talent; and she is that wife.
Krall dazzled a few thousand people Wednesday night at the Ra’anana amphitheater with her virtuoso piano playing and a voice now mellow, then haunting; now strong, then a whisper.
Her 90-minute performance, a bit too short, was enhanced mightily by the help of a talented band of musicians – Anthony Wilson (guitar), Kareem Riggins (drums) and Robert Hurst (bass) – who effortlessly added their own creative riffs and interpretations to the songs. The drums were soft and quick, not overly dominating; the bass was playful, not laborious, and the guitarplaying was smooth and graceful throughout.
Krall set the mellow, nightclubish tone early on with her rendition of the 1960s bossa nova classic “Summer Samba” (“So Nice”), alternately singing the words, “Someone to hold me tight, that would be very nice” in a deep, sultry voice, and then a loud whisper, that made it sound as if she sincerely meant every word.
What makes Krall so good is that she has the ability to take classic songs and make them better. This was especially true of her rendition of “Walk on By,” the Burt Bacharach number made famous by Dianne Warwick.
Listening to Krall’s version, and the slow, haunting way she phrased those words “walk on by,” made one think, “Dianne who?” This was the way that song was meant to be played.
Ditto with her version of Bacharach’s “Look of Love,” creatively interwoven with strains of yet another Bacharach hit, “What the world needs now is Love.”
There was a goodhumored, playful quality to the music throughout the night, some songs interspersed with themes from others. For example, snatches from the Beatles “Come together” showed up at the end of the Tom Waits number “Clap hands.” And, most engagingly for an Israel audience, strains of “Hava Nagila” were sprinkled into another Tom Waits song: “Jockey full of Bourbon.”
The brief sound of “Hava Nagila,” however, was the first of only two brief signs of recognition by Krall – who unfortunately failed to establish a rapport with the audience – that she was in Israel.
Color me provincial, but I would have been bowled over had she stepped on stage in that black, sleeveless dress of hers and mangled some innocuous Hebrew phrase, or said, “Hello Israel,” or something at all to acknowledge that she was playing here, in Israel, and not in Belgrade, or Bucharest, or Beirut, where she was the night before.
Albeit in Ra’anana, at the very end of the set Krall said “Thank you Tel Aviv.” But that’s okay, Ra’anana and Tel Aviv are pretty close. Krall knew very well where she was, evident in the fact she did not make any mention – as she often does in her concerts – to her husband Costello. Such a mention, she surly realized, would only have put a damper for many on an otherwise very pleasant evening.