Diana Krall: Too Marvelous for Words


Too Marvelous for Words


Diana Krall (vocals, piano)


Quiet Nights (Verve 12433)

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Diana Krall (vocals, piano), Anthony Wilson (guitar), John Clayton (bass), Paulinho Da Costa (percussion), Jeff Hamilton (drums).

Orchestra arranged and conducted by Claus Ogerman. Composed Richard Whiting and Johnny Mercer


Recorded: Hollywood, no date given (CD released in 2009)


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

I learned one thing on the playground basketball courts as a kid . . . if you keep on using the same moves over and over again, they stop working. You can't always fake to the left then move to the right.

Musicians are no different from hoopsters in this regard, yet they are tempted to return again and again to the formulas that worked in the past. This is all preamble to asking whether Diana Krall should return to the studio with the same musicians, the same arranger and conductor, the same languid bossa nova tempos, the same types of songs from the same era, the same producer, etc. etc. that she has worked to such perfection in the past. Okay, let's be fair, and give her credit for a striking new hairstyle. Other than that, the offerings on her new Quiet Nights CD could easily be holdovers from her The Look of Love sessions in 2001.

Krall fans will respond: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." They have a valid point. No one handles this type of material better than Diana Krall, and it is no small feat to take a song from 1937, and revivify its inner emotional life. Krall always seems to go a few steps deeper than the thousand or so cabaret performers who tackle these same numbers routinely. By the way, Krall also appears to be going deeper into her singing register these days. She takes this song in A flat, although I would think her voice would be better matched to the melody if it were a few steps higher, up in B flat or C territory. This is more like Cassandra Wilson's home turf, and it forces the vocalist to sing under much of the arrangement. An odd decision for Krall, but in some peculiar way it enhances the confessional angle of the lyrics.

So Krall makes the same move again, and I am caught flat-footed and watch her glide to the hoop. But next time down the court I fully expect her to surprise me with a pick and roll.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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  • 1 Sue Russell // Apr 01, 2009 at 06:54 PM
    Watch what you say about cabaret singers. You're perpetuating a stereotype that says cabaret equals shallow and jazz equals deep. This comment really says nothing about what makes Krall's performance distinctive or interesting.
  • 2 Ted Gioia // Apr 02, 2009 at 02:58 PM
    In Sue Russell's comments, she modestly neglected to mention that she has written an insightful article for this site on the very issue of jazz singing versus cabaret singing. Check it out here.