Diana Krall's Latest, 'Quiet Nights', Out March 31
"It's not coy. It's not 'peel me a grape,' little girl stuff. I feel this album's very womanly - like you're lying next to your lover in bed whispering this in their ear."
She's not kidding. From Krall's refreshing version of "Where or When," to an utterly soul-stilling rendition of "You're My Thrill," the ten songs on Quiet Nights are disarming in their intimacy. Even those already familiar with the breathy vocals and rhythmic lilt in Krall's music - and now there are millions - will be taken aback by just how far the music pushes, unabashedly, into the realm of sweet surrender. "It's a sensual, downright erotic record and it's intended to be that way."
Krall is the first to credit the musical team she assembled - her loyal quartet, ace producer Tommy LiPuma, engineer Al Schmitt plus legendary arranger Claus Ogerman - for much of the seductive power on Quiet Nights. But there's a deeper, palpable sense of maturity that she brought to the recording as well. "Most of my singing and playing on the album is really just first or second takes. 'You're My Thrill,' was a second take - "Too Marvelous," first take."
"She's completely matured," says Tommy LiPuma, who should know, having first worked with Krall in 1994. "Even in the past few years. She approaches her vocal phrasing much more like an instrumentalist than a straight singer. It's in her reading of the lyrics, and the timbre of her voice, much more misty like Peggy Lee in her mature period." ("I didn't want to over sing -- I was drawing also from Julie London very strongly on this album," Krall confesses, noting that such influences are not always conscious on her part. "It just came out that way.")
As such, the Brazilian focus of Krall's new album could not have been a more natural next step. "She's been very sympathetic to this music for a long time," notes LiPuma. "When we did The Look of Love, we were very much leaning in the bossa nova direction. Quiet Nights is really a celebration of this music. Diana sings three Brazilian classics, she rhythmically turned four standards into that style, and three ballads. So really there are ten songs on the album of which seven are just straight up bossa novas."
It makes sense that Quiet Nights (also the English name of the bossa nova classic "Corcovado" that is the title track) draws much of its musical spirit from the land that puts the "carnal" into its annual Carnaval celebration. "I was inspired to do this record because of my trip last year to Brazil," says Krall, who returned to Rio de Janeiro to shoot a concert for a new DVD release. "Then I just kept going back and found that everywhere you go you still hear the sounds of s and bossa nova."
For those who may not remember or weren't yet around, Brazil's bossa nova wave (literally "new bump" or "new way" in Portuguese) was the widely popular musical style, based on the country's traditional samba rhythms, that swept up from the sidewalk cafes of Rio in the early '60s and seduced the entire planet with its hypnotic, swaying beats, sultry melodies, and new, exciting harmonies - all with generous room for jazz improvisation. Antonio Carlos Jobim (who composed "Quiet Nights" and "The Girl from Ipanema") and Joao Gilberto ("Este Seu Olhar") are two of the pioneers of the music, revered as national heroes in Brazil to this day.
"It's their standards - even the kids know all the songs," says Krall. "In concert, I started singing "Este Seu Olhar" and the audience just opened their mouths and sang along - like a choir! It's in their blood."
Claus Ogerman was the arranger on many of bossa nova's first wave of recordings, working with the likes of Jobim and Gilberto, as well as Frank Sinatra, Stan Getz and Bill Evans. That he pulled himself out of semi-retirement in Munich to work on Quiet Nights says much of his respect for - and enjoyment working with - Krall.
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