Diana Krall – Turn Up The Quiet – Verve B0026217-02, 46:08 ****1/2:
Veteran jazz singer hits the mark again!
(Diana Krall – piano, vocals; Christian McBride – bass; Russell Malone – guitar; John Clayton Jr. – bass; Jeff Hamilton – drums; Anthony Wilson – guitar; Stefon Harris – vibraphone; Marc Ribot – guitar; Tony Garnier – bass; Karriem Higgins – drums; Stuart Duncan – fiddle and many others)
Canadian singer/pianist Diana Krall has established an impeccable career in jazz. She is the only performer to have eight albums debut at #1 on Billboard Jazz Albums. She has garnered three Grammys, while releasing fourteen successful albums. Her inimitable contralto and crisp piano stylings vaulted her to the pinnacle as a jazz musician. As with many jazz artists, she has explored different musical contexts to both the delight and concern of her fans. She represents the new vanguard of jazz.
Krall’s latest release, Turn Up The Quiet (Verve B0026217) can be described as a return to atmospheric jazz balladry. But it is much more than that. This is a delicately nuanced interpretation of standards with understated, though highly musical performances. Kicking off the festivities is a sly, groove-based cover of the Van Heusen/Burke classic, “Like Someone In Love”. Against a loping bass line by Christian McBride (who gets a chance to solo), Krall eases into her hushed vocals. Russell Malone’s playful guitar enriches the aural landscape. Moving to the often-recorded Rodgers/Hart “Isn’t it Romantic”, Krall slows it down to a subtle hush and adds some nimble piano riffs. A counterpoint string section brings a sweeping emotion, but the vocal phrasing keeps it cohesive. Krall adds some finger-snapping tempo to “L-O-V-E-“ with some jazzy piano chords. Anthony Wilson contributes a fluid solo as the combo puts some gentle swing into the arrangement.
There is a wide variety of first-rate Great American Songbook material. And when you get to do Cole Porter, it gets even better. “Night And Day” has seen dramatic readings and nightclub swagger in the past. But this tender bossa nova version with luscious strings is the perfect frame for the ethereal vocals. Shifting to a bluesy format, I’m Confessin’ (That I Love You)” has a fiddle (Stuart Duncan) that exudes an organic vibe. Krall’s intricate piano riffs are graceful and steady the jams. Even the ebullient Mills Brothers number, “Moonglow” is re-tooled with a languid elegance. Marc Ribot’s guitar work is excellent and Krall delivers another appealing solo. “Blue Skies” emerges from its low-key opening to small ensemble swing with Krall (muscular this time) Malone and McBride basking in the spotlight.
The moody background is pervasive and in most cases, very effective. “Sway” may be the exception with a very subdued (although the string arrangement by Alan Broadbent is superb) flow that is restrictive. Krall returns with an artistic vengeance showcasing tempo and jazzy inflections on “No Moon At All”. She delivers a sparkling piano solo. Broadbent’s textured strings approximate a cinematic, gossamer tone on “Dream” . In the tradition of great jazz players, Krall switches gears on the finale. “I’ll See You In My Dreams” is snappy, Django-esque swing with punctuated rhythms, fiddle and funky piano.
Turn Up The Quiet is a well-executed jazz album. Krall exerts a strong commitment to the overall concept and strikes the requisite balance of musicianship and artistic vision. The audio quality of the CD is excellent. The strings blend with the instrumentals and Krall’s distinctive voice.
TrackList: Like Someone In Love; Isn’t it Romantic; L-O-V-E; Night And Day; I’m Confessin’ (That I Love You); Moonglow; Blue Skies; Sway; No Moon At All;Dream; I’ll See You In My Dreams