Quiet Nights CDs

March 31, 2009|By RASHOD D. OLLISON

Diana Krall

[Verve Records] *** (3 STARS)

On Quiet Nights, the new album by Diana Krall, the jazz singer-pianist sways with the gentle rhythms of bossa nova. It's a sound that's familiar to Krall, and she handles it well. But this is the first time the Grammy winner has devoted an entire album to the style.

The CD, out Tuesday, is her first release since giving birth to twin boys two years ago. In a way, Quiet Nights extends the elegant feel of Krall's last album, the excellent From This Moment On. Her hushed, Shirley Horn-like vocals are warmly embraced by tastefully understated orchestration overseen by the legendary Claus Ogerman. The arranger last worked with Krall on her 2001 album, The Look of Love, but had long built his reputation on timeless sessions with Frank Sinatra and bossa nova king Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Underscored by Ogerman's minor-key charts, the mood of Quiet Nights is unabashedly romantic and sultry. But Krall's softly spun phrasing and smart, precise piano work anchor the 12-song set.

It's the kind of late-night concept album jazz-pop sirens such as June Christy and Peggy Lee used to cut back in the '50s. Krall's breathy, suede-soft vocals glide through gems plucked from the American Songbook. Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's "Where or When," which opens the album, begins with stately strings before easing into bossa nova.

Songs associated with the style, such as Jobim's "The Boy From Ipanema" and the title track, are obvious choices. Although a '60s standard such as Dionne Warwick's "Walk on By" may seem like an odd selection, it fits well in the relaxed bossa nova mode. Besides, there was more than a whiff of the style in the 1964 original.

Ultimately, though, Quiet Nights doesn't introduce any fresh ideas or memorable improvisations. Krall just pays homage to a sound and doesn't try to reinvigorate anything, which is fine. Quiet Nights simply matches a classy singer with a classic style.

Download these: : "Where or When," "Too Marvelous for Words," "Walk on By," "You're My Thrill," "Quiet Nights"

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