Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

Some Enchanted Evening

August 19, 2007

Diana Krall looking not unlike Daphne
Photo: Bruce Weber
If there were ever an argument about the benefits of staying through the intermission of a program that seems miserable at intermission, it was this weekend’s performances with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. To some extent, this is unfair to say since the show was really two programs in one. Most of the tickets were sold for the evening’s headliner, Diana Krall, who appeared with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. However, the powers that be must have decided that the Krall set would not be lengthy enough to occupy a full evening with an intermission, so the LA Philharmonic was recruited to perform an unnecessary and needlessly pandering 30 minute intro including orchestral excerpts from On the Town and Porgy and Bess. The talents of this group and the Phil’s associate conductor, Joana Carneiro, are wasted on this schlock filler - music that is both pleasantly familiar to a crowd largely uninterested in classical music and yet not given the requisite space or context to make it worthwhile.

Luckily, Krall was on the bill and did she ever deliver. Krall’s recordings are excellent, but none compare to the joy of seeing her live, and she is one of the rare performers who can take the mammoth space of the Bowl and shrink it to virtually nothing in an instant. Her dusky voice and intonation were magnificent in a program that focused heavily on Nat Cole and Cole Porter, as well as numbers from her current record From This Moment On. Although she can tend to fall off in the bottom part of her already low range, there is a no-nonsense quality to her playing and singing that make these standards seem both heart-felt and nonchalant simultaneously. Her support from CHJO was first rate, but for two extended stretches she was accompanied only by John Clayton on bass, Jeff Hamilton on drums, and guitarist Anthony Wilson. And just think, all that talent and virtually no pandering about the events in her personal life that have occupied so much of the press coverage about her in the last year. It’s always nice to see artists doing what they do best without the need to filter it through whatever the “story” is about them at the moment.

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