CLEARWATER -- It isn't every day that a bona fide jazz artist, as opposed to a musician merely influenced by jazz, releases an album that goes gold, much less platinum. But that's precisely what has happened with Diana Krall's WHEN I LOOK IN YOUR EYES, the Grammy-winning 1999 CD that sold more than 2-million copies in the U.S. and abroad.
Krall, 36, demonstrated the reasons for her appeal Monday night at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
The mood was 1940s noir, the jazz and pop standards were choice, the musicianship was of the highest caliber, and the glamorous Krall seemed to make a direct emotional connection with her 1,909 listeners.
The crowd-pleasing began early, with the up-tempo, bluesy I Love Being Here With You, with some piano improvisation up front. Let's Fall In Love, from her most recent CD, benefited from a stark opening, with Krall's sometimes husky, sometimes honeyed vocals backed only by guitarist Dan Faehnle's understated, tasteful work.
The sound was elegant throughout and the instrumental arrangements were minimalist but resonant and deeply swinging, something on the order of a Modern Jazz Quartet with guitar replacing vibes.
Krall offered several other pieces from her biggest-selling CD, including a seductive, insinuating stroll through Cole Porter's I've Got You Under My Skin, and similarly appealing versions of the bouncy Devil May Care and the moody East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon).
She also varied the familiar formula, pairing her voice with Ben Wolfe's walking bass at the beginning of All Or Nothing At All. I Don't Know Enough About You opened with light boogie-blues piano, and the singer went a cappella for a moody, dramatic reading of Joni Mitchell's A Case Of You.
She joked about Mitchell's response to the cover: "Joni said, "Oh, Diana, you're singing the doormat song.' " Krall spoke of meeting astronaut Buzz Aldrin, before proceeding to a reserved Fly Me To The Moon, which got one of the loudest ovations of the evening, as did Frim Fram Sauce and Lost Mind.
Previewing her next CD, due in September, Krall treated the crowd to an emotional version of the Julie London hit Cry Me A River. The disc, she said, will feature orchestral arrangements by Claus Ogerman, who collaborated with Sinatra, pianist Bill Evans, Brazilian composer-pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim and others. Will the CD, partly recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra at the same Abbey Road studio where the Beatles worked, turn Krall into a household name? Will she leave jazz behind? We'll see.