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CONCERT REVIEW

Diana Krall takes audience back to an earlier time
By Joseph Brennan
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER


Diana Krall has built a memorable career as an interpreter of the music of George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and their contemporaries, their heyday lasting roughly from the 1930s to the 1950s.

Tuesday night at the Orpheum Theater, she took us back to an earlier time — the era of vaudeville, gramophones and the showgirls she salutes in her latest album, "Glad Rag Doll."

She performed almost the entire album in a two-hour show framed by silent movies ranging from Betty Boop cartoons to tough-guy George Raft dancing in tux and tails.

She dipped into her traditional catalog with a lovely rendition of Berlin's "Let's Face the Music and Dance," a tribute, she said, to Omaha-born Fred Astaire, who popularized the song.

And she brought her enthusiastic audience into the present with raucous performances of "Temptation" by Tom Waits and two gems from her fellow Canadians, The Band.

The sultry Krall, 48, a Grammy Award winner, has been voted the top female jazz vocalist in Downbeat magazine's annual poll for the better part of a decade. Her breathy contralto summons thoughts of dark piano bars, heavy cigarette smoke and generous doses of whiskey. Her songs are tales of regret, loss and unhappy love affairs.

"Glad Rag Doll'' was inspired by her father's collection of 78 RPM records and an aunt's experience as a showgirl. Krall, making her first appearance in Omaha, mused that perhaps her aunt even performed at the Orpheum, once a vaudeville house.

Backed by a strong five-man band, she moved easily from the wistful — "Just Like a Butterfly That's Caught in the Rain" — to the bluesy "I'm a Little Mixed Up."

In the middle of the show, her band departed and she switched to an upright piano. Krall delivered a virtuoso on her favorite pianist — Fats Waller — dazzling the crowd with "Your Feet's Too Big" and "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter."

Between songs, Krall bantered with the audience, entertaining requests — though the crowd seemed a little sluggish in this exercise. She at one point asked if it was a "a school night."

Krall's long tour has kept her away from her twin 6-year-old boys. She wryly noted that they prefer the music of their father (and her husband), Irish rock musician Elvis Costello.

She put Omaha to bed with "Prairie Lullaby," one of mom's tunes that her boys do enjoy. Here's hoping she returns.


Contact the writer:

402-444-1119, joe.brennan@owh.com


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