The word evidently got out about the free concert celebrating Diana Krall's new album, "Quiet Nights," the one today at 1 p.m. in the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center downtown, because by the time I got there at 12:30 p.m. the place was filling up. And what a place! The large curved glassed atrium, dotted with soaring palms, seems a good place for a concert, and indeed, the one today had the feeling of a spring renewal. Though many in the assembled crowd, some standing, some sitting on the curved raked steps, looked dressed for work, there was an air of informality, like summertime.
Diana Krall and her orchestra took the stage promptly, and the audience greeted her entrance warmly. She played songs from the new album, a sexy, lingering affair, including classics of bossa nova. It's a tall order to sing "Quiet Nights" (Corcovado) and say something different from the memorable one recorded by Astrud Gilberto. With her breathy but full vocalizations and improv, Krall made it her own, choosing to rest her good piano talents for the moment to concentrate on the phrasings. Her "Boy from Ipanema" was likewise tropical and sexy, giving a full sense of the pleasures of the female gaze. Of the songs in the 45-minute set, I was most impressed by her interpretation of Rogers and Hart's "Where or When," a song Frank Sinatra understood and one hard to nail for the right amount of wistfulness. The orchestral arrangements took some pleasant unexpected directions, including impressive solo jazz riffs, but I feel that this venue is not the best in the world for acoustics. A lot of the richness of the sound gets lost somewhere up there in the palm fronds. Best to see this group in Carnegie Hall when they play there in June, but then of course, the concerts will not be free.
Leaving the building by the exit near the concourse and the water, everyone seemed impressed with the overwhelming blue skies and warmer weather. It was good to know that there will be many more concerts down here this summer, indeed on the sultry evenings imagined in the Jobim lyrics. I overheard someone say, "I wish I was unemployed, too, so I wouldn't have to go back to work." While the landscape didn't include Rio's hunchback mountain, boats floating in the Hudson seemed good enough for everyone on such a brilliant day.
Images: Diana Krall in concert. The Winter Garden, World Financial Center, New York by Walking Off the Big Apple. More images will be posted on Flickr WOTBA.