BY FRANK DE BLASE
Acoustic Alchemy was the first band out of the gate at this year’s Jazz Fest. Lines were berserk throughout the fest and this show at Harro East was no different, with folks lining up at 3:30 p.m. for a 5:30 p.m. show.
The first half of this band’s moniker is a bit misleading, as it started off its set with one amplified acoustic guitar amidst a mix of electric guitar, bass, drums, and keys. The band is extremely disciplined in its approach and is impressive in its languid, fluid delivery. Underpinings of smooth jazz soured me a bit, but the electric guitar’s atmospheric Tex-Mex-mambo textures sweetened and saved the show.
I’ve often wondered if Diana Krall was as cool as she comes off, or just bored. I’m here to say she’s cool, daddy-o. As Krall strolled out of the backstage darkness at Kodak Hall and over to the piano, every Raymond Chandler description of a woman poured out of me like sweat. Not only is Krall breathtakingly beautiful, but that voice — it’s pure seduction and invitation a la Julie London. Krall tackled songs by artists like Nat “King” Cole and Tom Waits. Her band laid a capable shag beneath her and she returned the favor with frequent forays that featured each. I was told that the show was sold out, but there was nobody there except for Krall and myself as she sang and completely unglued me front and center. I bounded out of there in love like Pepe le Pew. Le sigh!
In keeping with the femme fatale theme tonight (and my life in general), I rolled over to Abilene to see rockabilly filly Rosie Flores, who had a line down the street and around the corner for both of her sold-out shows. I’ve seen Flores a bunch of times over the years, and this was the wildest I’ve seen her in the guitar department. She tore into her baby blue Tele like it was her prom date and she had a hard time keeping her boots on the ground. What a sensational show. She tears me up.
During the coming days we may discover that the Jazz Fest has outgrown itself. With lines getting increasingly long, space in clubs getting tight, and parking scarce (a big thank you to the asshole charging $20 to park), tempers were tested a bit tonight. The festival runners may want to add more shows to accommodate its otherwise awesome success.
Saturday night you’ll find me at Esperanza Spalding and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, among other shows.