Bourne's Montreal: Diana Krall And Me
July 23, 2014. Posted by Tim Wilkins.
When Diana Krall first played the Montreal jazzfest 20 years ago, she was just getting started in her soon-to-be-skyrocketing career; she played a tribute to Nat Cole with Russell Malone on guitar, and Paul Keller on bass, in the bistro of the city's Comedy Museum, now long-closed.
That gig was one of the swinging-est performances I've ever heard. It's the concert I always remember first whenever I'm asked what have been my favorite musical moments through my 22 years at FIJM.
Every few years since then, she's returned to Montreal — each gig at a bigger venue - and every time, I catch the show.
This year, I got to reminisce with Diana during her Q&A with festival artistic director André Menard, which you can listen to here:
When still a newcomer, Diana played a lovely concert at Theatre Maisonneuve. Tony Bennett was singing that evening at the biggest venue, Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. Mid-way through his show, Tony called Diana onto the stage, sat her at the piano, held the microphone for her to sing, and in that moment virtually anointed Diana as a new keeper of the standards flame.
I was there that evening, and I’ve been there whenever she's played FIJM, including a show at the city's uncomfortably enormous hockey rink, the Bell Centre - where, as a surprise, her then-new husband Elvis Costello joined her onstage at the show’s climax.
Andre Menard, the festival's co-founder and always astute artistic director, suggested that Diana play a show solo for FIJM 2011, so she created a tribute to her beloved mom and dad.
Along with showing home movies and early cartoons, she decorated the stage with personal artifacts, including her dad's crank-up Victrola, and played songs of the 20s and 30s, from her dad's sheet music collection, that she practised as a child.
"I can still smell my dad's cigarette smoke," she said at the concert. Soon thereafter, she evolved the show into what became a tour of the album Glad Rag Doll.
For this year's mid-fest “grand event” or grand evenement, Diana bookended her tour for an audience of more than 100,000, mostly standing in the streets all around Place des Arts, with a group that included guitarist Marc Ribot and Karriem Riggins, the former drummer of her musical mentor, bassist Ray Brown.
Along with some of her favorite pop songs -- "Temptation" by Tom Waits, "Heart of Gold" by Neil Young, and several by Bob Dylan — she sang a deeply emotional "Let's Face The Music and Dance."
Husband Elvis Costello came on for the encores, which was inexorable, but not a surprise — he also played a solo concert, earlier that evening, at Montreal’s Symphony Hall. Having not seen each other, as both had been on tour, and with their twins away on a fishing trip, they actually flirted.
Then they sang duets - climaxed by a faster-than-a-speeding-bullet breath-taker, Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues."
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