By Bobby Reed | Published June 2017
The liner notes of pianist/vocalist Diana Krall’s new album of jazz standards, Turn Up The Quiet, include a dedication: “For Tommy.” DownBeat used that phrase as the title of the cover story on Krall in our June issue. The dedication is particularly poignant because Krall and her longtime collaborator, Tommy LiPuma, completed the album prior to the famed producer’s death on March 13. The liner notes also include a photo that Krall took, which captures LiPuma engaged in a conversation with recording engineer Al Schmitt, a 20-time Grammy winner. In the photo, Schmitt appears to be listening intently—something that all great musicians and all great recording engineers do. One of the album highlights is an interpretation of Rodgers & Hart’s “Isn’t It Romantic?” that begins with about 75 seconds of just Krall’s voice and Anthony Wilson’s guitar. As the track unfolds, more instruments join the mix—Krall’s piano, as well as John Clayton (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums) and Stefon Harris (vibraphone)—and then at the 2:47 mark, a string section eases in, with exquisitely tasteful orchestration by Alan Broadbent. The track, which clocks in at 4:29, is a master class on how to use strings on a jazz standard while still maintaining a remarkable intimacy. Krall, who plays piano and sings on all 11 tracks here, teamed with LiPuma and Schmitt to foster a “less is more” approach on spellbinding versions of “L-O-V-E,” “No Moon At All” and “Like Someone In Love.” Stuart Duncan’s fiddle work adds a vintage vibe to “Moonglow,” and his percussive playing on “I’ll See You In My Dreams” is followed by Marc Ribot’s romantic, emotionally hefty guitar solo, and then Duncan jumps back in with sumptuous, nostalgic lines. Among the other incredible musicians who played on the sessions are bassist Christian McBride, guitarist Russell Malone, drummer Karriem Riggins and the versatile bassist Tony Garnier, a longtime member of Bob Dylan’s band. For this album, Krall selected the songs, wrote the ensemble arrangements and oversaw three different ensemble lineups. At this point in her career, Krall knows how to put her own distinctive stamp on decades-old standards, making them sound fresh and vibrant, while still honoring the melodies that Great American Songbook fans know so well.