There are a lot of positive and good things to say about Diana Krall‘s new album “Turn Up The Quiet”. First and foremost, the title says it all: she DOES turn up the quiet, with ample help from legendary engineer Al Schmitt and equally legendary producer, the late Tommy LiPuma. Diana’s voice is recorded with the utter most intimacy, right in your face with each breath audible as if she is directly in front of you. Sometimes it is more like a slight little breeze that turns out to be her singing, like on “Isn’t It Romantic”. Stefon Harris graces the tune with his vibes and the phat orchestration is once again from the brain of the king of orchestrators, Alan Broadbent. And the band! Christian McBride‘s thick and robust bass opens “Like Someone In Love” before Russell Malone sets in with his striding guitar.
Three different bands can be heard on the album, a quintet that features Karriem Riggins and Marc Ribot and a trio with her longtime partner Anthony Wilson on guitar, John Clayton Jr. on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums. The album has “classic” written all over it. Passages remind me of the late Ray Brown Trio, others of Oscar Peterson but I can’t help think about the ultimate versions of the standards on offer here – especially if you want to stay in the traditional, conservative mode. Sure, you might say that she saves the Great American Songbook or that she brings these old chestnuts to the attention of a new, younger audience (really?), but I wish she would open up her repertoire and that she takes more risks and chances. “Night & Day” is flawless, including her brilliant piano work, but it takes me nowhere.
A nice change of sound can be heard on “I’m Confessin’ (That I Love You)”: fiddler Stuart Duncan spices up the tune a bit. And guitarist Marc Ribot puts “Moonglow” a bit off the track with his outspoken playing and in tandem with the fiddle, the song almost traces down a new path. Other songs are simply worn out, even if they display interesting arrangement features, like “Blue Skies”. So for me, the tunes that grab me the most are those which haven’t been recorded a million times. Her take on “Sway” works with its trimmed-down, slowed-down tempo and almost folky guitar work. The slower than slow arrangement gets a bit syrupy with the strings, but at least there’s caramel in it and not just sugar. And the last two minutes are sublime thanks to Alan Broadbent who turns the track into an eerie, almost sinister movie with his brooding string arrangement.
There’s not a lot to say about “No Moon At All” and “Dream”. Solid work. And “I’ll See You In My Dreams” as the album closer brings the swing back in. Now what about Diana recording the songs of Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac? Her tour will bring her to Germany in September with stops in Frankfurt (9/14), Berlin (9/15), Munich (9/16), Duisburg (9/22), and Stuttgart (10/4).