Jazz singer and pianist Diana Krall led more than 3,000 fans on a masterfully paced and nuanced journey through nearly a century’s worth of great songs, from the 1920s to the present, Friday night at the Green Music Center’s Weill Hall and lawn.
Known for making familiar classics and standards her own, Krall brought a deft sense of drama to every tune, starting “Isn’t It Romantic” in a near-whisper and ending it with bold vocal flourish.
The Canadian jazz stylist kept firm control of the evening’s set, still allowing plenty of time for inventive and extended solos by each of the virtuosos in her quartet. Her own pounding piano solo lent a bluesy finish to her group’s elaborate and powerful exploration of Tom Waits’ “Temptation.”’
The crowd got an extra treat when, Krall’s husband, singer-songwriter Elvis Costello, and their two sons quietly slipped into the audience during the show.
“I like her sound and I love songs,” fan Jim Palzis, 78, of Napa said before the show. “Nobody does ‘East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)’ the way she does it.”
Krall didn’t stint on the great old songs, weaving Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies,” Jimmy McHugh’s “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” into the evening’s songlist. At 52, Krall is younger than many of her own favorites.
But her repertoire reaches across generations.
“My mother introduced me to Diana Krall’s music and I’m here with my mom tonight,” said Hannah Simon, 26, of San Francisco.
The evening began with a formal champagne reception titled “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” complete with costumed Shakespearean actors, and ended with the Green Music Center’s annual fundraising gala dinner, with tickets priced at $1,000 each.
Dressed in a tuxedo for the occasion was Jacob Yarrow, the center’s new executive director, who started work there in June.
“We wanted the Diana Krall concert to coincide with the gala,” Yarrow said. “She is such a remarkable musician with deep roots in jazz and a lovely, distinct voice.”
Out on the lawn, the concert crowd brought out picnic blankets and popped up umbrellas to fend off an early evening drizzle that mercifully subsided. As it was, with Krall onstage, the evening picked up plenty of steam.
You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @danarts.