Diana Krall – Quiet Nights (2009)

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A mature romanticism permeates “Quiet Nights,” Diana Krall’s intimate if not always challenging Verve release.

Issued on March 31, “Quiet Nights” features three familiar Brazilian classics (yes, including, “The Boy from Ipanema”), four rhythmically infused popular American tunes and three elegant ballads.

Throughout, Krall’s whispery smooth phrasing (part Julie London, part mature-era Peggy Lee) meshes perfectly — like slipping between silk sheets — with the lush orchestral background. That’s particularly so on Rogers and Hart’s “Where Or When,” Johnny Mercer’s “Too Marvelous Words” and a superlative take on “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry” by Sammy Cahn and Jules Styne.

Credit Jobim alum Claus Ogerman, the arranger with whom Krall reunites for the first time since 2001’s three million-selling “The Look of Love,” and a recent band trip to Rio to shoot a concert for an Eagle Vision DVD release. (Krall talks about this journey in the video embedded below.)

Krall found that bossa nova — a long ago musical sensation in the States, it translates as “new way” in Portuguese — still sprung out of every sidewalk cafe, still leaked out of every passing car. This is no fad in Brazil; tracks like Jobim’s “Este Seu Olhar,” given a sensitive reading here, are their songbook standards.

Krall, it’s clear, internalized the crowd’s authenticism about this music, rethinking pop tunes like “Walk On By” by Hal David and Burt Bacharach; “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face,” from Lerner-Loewe; and bonus track “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” the old Bee Gees hit.

Still, I would have liked a bit more swing — like, say, on Elaine Elias’ earlier bossa nova tribute. Krall’s working group of guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton is joined by percussionist Paulinho Da Costa, and I wish he’d been allowed to gently goose this record along. Without that, “Quiet Nights” risks succumbing to its very quietude.

That said, on tracks like “You’re My Thrill,” which vibrates with this sweet eroticism, Krall’s voice pushes everything aside. She’s not taking the kind of risks associated with 2004’s “The Girl in the Other Room,” composed after her mother’s death, so much as trying for a delicately composed homage.

As such, “Quiet Nights” succeeds as easy listening, in the best sense of those words.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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