The first Diana Krall record I ever heard was her 1996 album "All For You," a tribute to the music of the Nat King Cole Trio. Like those early Cole recordings, it featured, for the most part, a drummer-less trio of piano, bass and guitar that was a sinewy, lean music machine. And Krall's vocals matched it. It was a great record.When I recently heard Krall's recording of "The Boy From Ipanema" on the radio, at first I didn't know who it was, but I thought "this singer is really trying too hard and is so over the top." Then I thought maybe that was because the original Astrid Giberto vocal on the classic recording is so restrained and beautifully understated, that anyone singing that song would stand a good chance of sounding artificial and exaggerated. Still, I was really surprised when I found out it was Krall.
And so, it was with trepidation that I bought "Quiet Nights."
The album is Krall's headfirst dive into some Brazilian and some Brazilian-flavored material with arrangements by the legendary Claus Ogerman. The cover shows Krall as the incredibly sexy vixen that I'm sure she is. Unfortunately, This album will probably not become one of my favorites.
Although she's working with longtime sidemen guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist John Clayton, and drummer Jeff Hamilton, on most of the tunes, Krall is swimming upstream against some overpoweringly lush strings, drowning her and everything else. I only heard her piano during the instrumental breaks, the tempos are a bit sluggish and the tracks lack a rhythmic crispness. Krall's vocal attempt to suggest pillow talk intimacy comes off breathy and overdone.
Bacharach and David's "Walk On By," the Gibbs Brothers' "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart," "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" and "Quiet Nights" stand up as the best tunes on the CD. All artists fail occasionally. That's why they're artists. I'd recommend buying Krall's "All For You" instead. Her rendition of "Frim Fram Sauce" is worth the price of admission ---ADDISON DE WITT