After detours into snoozing '70s soft rock, 1920s jazz, and bossa nova on her last three albums respectively, Diana Krall returns to the small group + orchestra sound she does so well for her best studio album of standards since 1999’s “When I Look In Your Eyes.” This new release, “Turn Up The Quiet,” finds Krall collaborating with many of her previous partners, including guitarist Russell Malone, and the rhythm section of John Clayton on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums. Alan Broadbent provides the tasteful orchestrations on several of the tunes.
Krall sounds most at home in the great American songbook, and you’ll find plenty of gems here by Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Irving Berlin, and Johnny Mercer. But there are some real surprises and discoveries as well, such as Krall’s hypnotic take on “Sway,” by Norman Gimbel, Pablo Rodriguez and Luís Molina. With its unhurried pace, it’s the longest cut on the album, and maybe the longest cut on any of Krall’s previous albums. It doesn’t feel like it, though, as the orchestra lulls the listener into a state of sun-drenched bliss.
One of the things I also love about Krall is the imperfection of her voice. Back on “What Are You Doing New Years Eve?” from 2005's “Christmas Songs” LP, her voice cracks as she nears the end of the first chorus, underlining the song’s coy pleas. Here, Krall strains a bit to hit the notes on “Isn’t it Romantic,” though it’s never a matter of pitch—sometimes it just sounds as if her voice is about to give out, wistfully.
The arrangements on the disc, by Krall, are splendid. On more than a few tunes, a jaunty violin (Stuart Duncan) is added to the ensemble. The orchestra never overpowers the small group. For lovers of great standards, rendered exquisitely, this is a must-have.