Diana Krall

Thursday, May 4; Sheldon

When Diana Krall made her St. Louis debut at Just Jazz at the Hotel Majestic on the evening before Thanksgiving in 1993, there weren't many in the audience who were familiar with her music. In fact, there weren't many people in the audience -- period.

That wasn't surprising, considering that at the time Krall, a native of the small town of Nanaimo (located near Vancouver, British Columbia), had performed mainly at clubs in her hometown and Toronto, with a handful of club appearances in the Los Angeles area thrown in.

In fact, the only reason Krall was at Just Jazz that week was because the late Barbara Rose, who had begun booking acts at the club that year, happened to see the young pianist perform at a private jazz party/festival a few weeks earlier in the Pacific Northwest. Rose was so impressed that she immediately booked Krall for Just Jazz, even though the Canadian musician was basically an unknown quantity in America.

Krall was obviously nervous at her Just Jazz debut, but she overcame early jitters to turn in a fine performance that displayed her rhythmic keyboard work and a smoky vocal style that showed promise. Since that 1993 debut, Krall has worked hard to become a vocal talent and has reeled out a string of top-selling jazz recordings on the GRP and Impulse! labels.

But Krall's success (including a recent Grammy Award) is now pushing her into bigger venues, and here in St. Louis, that means a move to the Sheldon Concert Hall. But given the fact that most of the venues on Krall's current concert schedule are in the 2,000-3,000-seat range, the Sheldon may just be the most intimate setting on this tour. In fact, after leaving St. Louis, Krall and her musicians -- bassist Ben Wolfe, drummer Shannon Powell and guitarist Dan Faehnle -- head for New Orleans and a gig at the massive Jazz & Heritage Festival. But if you don't have tickets already for Krall's Sheldon show, be prepared to pay a heavy fee to a scalper. This one's been sold out for some time.