- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 24, 2000

When Diana Krall was a girl, she wanted to become an astronaut, and in one sense, she has achieved that. Her sultry voice and distinctive piano stylings rose and soared over the Northern Virginia countryside Tuesday night while she performed as "special guest star" on Tony Bennett's show at Wolf Trap.
Miss Krall is a 36-year-old native Canadian who sings and plays jazz with equal facility and brilliance. She has been one of the genre's brightest stars for half a decade, and her appeal is crossing over into whatever passes for the popular-music mainstream these days.
Miss Krall's most recent CD, "When I Look in Your Eyes," was nominated for a Grammy for last year's best album. Previous efforts, a 1996 tribute to the old Nat "King" Cole Trio titled "All for You" and 1997's "Love Scenes," were nominated for Grammys for best jazz vocal performance. She is, in other words, becoming very big.
Unfortunately perhaps, the marketers have turned Miss Krall into something of a sex symbol. At Wolf Trap, she came on stage with platinum blond hair flowing to her shoulders and wearing a slinky black sheath cut low in front and high on the thigh. This image threatens to detract from her impressive skills, but she sets matters straight when the music starts.
During a 45-minute opening set with her talented backup trio, Miss Krall's versatility dazzled the large crowd. Her second number, "Let's Fall in Love," was a textbook example of seductive singing. On the third, she turned "I've Got You Under My Skin" into a soulful lament with perhaps the best reading since Frank Sinatra's classic 1956 version.
Two lighter efforts were a torchy, rock-accented "My Mind" and Mr. Cole's nonsensical but delightful "Frim Fram Sauce." Often accused of lacking a sense of humor in her stage presence, Miss Krall is getting much better at it. Near the end of "Frim Fram," she suddenly sang the bridge from "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and laughed along with the audience.
Miss Krall and Mr. Bennett, nearing the end of a 16-city "Two for the Road" tour, are an effective pairing despite their generational disparity. Both rely heavily on standards, and the 74-year-old Mr. Bennett was in marvelous form during a solo set that stretched over an hour at what has become a regular venue for him.
Following the deaths of Mr. Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme and Joe Williams, Mr. Bennett stands alone as a senior interpreter of the best American music. Astonishingly, his voice has lost none of its power. He reached for the sky with his high notes throughout the evening, crooned several songs barely above a whisper and, as always, seemed to delight in the music and his audience's response.
For good measure, Mr. Bennett even growled a Satchmo-like "oh yeahhh …" at the climax of "I Wanna Be Around" and did a few neat dance steps during a segment devoted to Fred Astaire songs.
All in all, it was a memorable evening. The only negative note was that when Miss Krall and Mr. Bennett appeared together for a minitribute to Mr. Sinatra, they limited it to two songs, "I Fall in Love Too Easily" and "I've Got the World on a String."
Near the end of the latter, Miss Krall ad-libbed, "I'm just a lucky so-and-so I get to sing with Tony Bennett." The audience undoubtedly shared the feeling.

Three and 1/2 out of four stars
WHAT: "Two for the Road," with Tony Bennett and "special guest star" Diana Krall
WHERE: Wolf Trap

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