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20.7. 2014

GabiK : Diana KRALL ; Stefano BOLLANI
Kedy 20. 07. 2014
od 19:00 do 22:00
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Diana Krall - Live in Rio, Blu-ray

I'm a pretty casual Diana Krall fan; I've got a couple of her records, I always enjoy her mellow arrangements and smoky voice when one of her songs comes up during a shuffle on my iPod, and that's about it. But her new concert discDiana Krall: Live in Rio is just plain enchanting. Filmed last November and featuring much of the same talent and music assembled for her recent bossa nova-flavored Quiet Nights album, Live in Rio has the same warm, mellow, at-home vibe that I so admired on last year's Live from Jazz at Lincoln CenterDVD (featuring Wynton Marsalis and Willie Nelson).

The program begins with a brief series of Rio de Janeiro beauty shots (which are occasionally, awkwardly cut into the concert as well) before settling on Krall and her band on stage in front of a packed house at Vivo Rio, where they smoothly run through eighteen songs, most of them jazz and pop standards given a (sometimes barely perceptible) regional flavor. Krall takes the vocals and piano, and for backing, she has a terrific quartet--John Clayton on acoustic bass, Jeff Hamilton on drums, Anthony Wilson on guitar, and Paulinho DeCosta on percussion--with the Rio De Janeiro Orchestra (conducted by Ruria Duprat) adding the lushness of Claus Ogerman's arrangements. All are splendid, while Krall's playing is excellent and her silky voice is in fine form. I've never really understood the folks (and there are plenty of them) who dislike Krall's voice; I find her vocals to be soulful and understated, with the lived-in quality of the best jazz songstresses.

The video recording of this particular performance is a fairly standard affair; there's not much that a director and editor can do in a live concert film that's terribly unexpected, but director David Barnard manages to put his cameras in the right places and assemble it into a smooth, professional package. He smartly keeps a camera tightly trained on Krall throughout, so that he can catch some of her smaller touches in performance (my favorite was her longing little sigh leading into the bridge of "Let's Fall In Love"). She also has some nice audience byplay; when a fan shouts "I love you," she replies, "Oh, I'm difficult, but I thank you" without missing a beat.

But the music is just wonderful. "I Love Being Here With You" is a marvelous, toe-tapping opener, and their rendition of "I've Grown Accustomed To His Face" is absolutely lovely. Her stirring cover of "Walk on By" is a highlight, as is their spirited, fast-tempo "Cheek to Cheek." Her take on "You're My Thrill" is moody, atmospheric, and a little dark. "So Nice" (with some expert ivory-tinkling by Krall) is a definite crowd-pleaser, but the audience goes absolutely nuts when she (ably) sings "Este Seu Olhar" in their native tongue. Her version of "I Don't Know Enough About You" proves a rousing closer (pre-encore, of course), while "S'Wonderful" is warm and bewitching.

Stefano Bollani – Carioca Live, Blu-ray (2009/2014)

This is an astounding concert of Brazilian jazz, featuring a band with a few Brazilians but mainly Italian performers led by the phenomenal classical/jazz/world music pianist Stefano Bollani. We’re reviewed several of his albums already: An exciting classical performance of the two Gershwin Concertos with symphony orchestra, a wonderfulpiano solo album on ECM, and an album of piano duets with Chick Corea (who is also into Latin jazz) among them. His influences come from from all sorts of classical and jazz, tango, Brazilian music, ragtime, you name it.

There is some frustration connected with this Blu-ray, in that there are absolutely no English translations of anything, no notes on the selections, nothing on the couple of songs Bollani sings in Portuguese, and no subtitles for his comments to the audience at the Villa Arconati Festival (wherever that is in Italy), and nothing for the interview/documentary extra—which is all in Italian. (Even the Amazon review summary is all in Italian!)  There is also no Home screen with the ability to select the 14 different chapter/tracks; you must use the advance button. However, the amazing music played by Bollani on solo piano and with the various members of his band as well as the whole group are truly some of the best jazz of any sort I’ve heard in many months.

Some of the tracks seem to have a strong Brazilian choro influence, and I do recognize Brazilian composers’ names such as Chico Buarque, Nazareth and Cavaquinho. A few of the tunes sound somewhat familiar, but the only one I was totally familiar with wasTico Tico (but what a version of it!).  Some of the unusual percussion sounds from Armando Marcal are something to hear, and fit right into the music. The band’s front line of tenor sax, soprano sax and clarinet wails away at some breakneck tempi on some of the tunes, and are super exciting. Some of the solos on soprano sax or clarinet especially seem so complex and rapid that you think they just can’t be topped, but then there is another chorus that is even more complex and speedy. You’ll have a completely different image of the word Carioca after hearing this concert! Believe me, it’s well worth the $34 Amazon wants for it, in spite of the subtitles problem.

The images are beautifully shot and are very bright and of high resolution. No dark and murky stage shots here, as on some concert Blu-ray discs. The soundtrack is also excellent in taking the viewer right into the concert. I stuck with the highest-quality PCM stereo mix, but next viewing I’ll try the DTS surround option.