Off of the turntable comes “Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers and Hart Songbook,” a 1977 Verve Records reissue of the 1956 double album, complete with lengthy liner notes across the double truck and a marvelous mural of Ella and Dizzy and other horn players I should recognize on the back.
On goes Diana Krall’s sort of double vinyl album — three sides; who knew? — released this month called “Turn Up The Quiet.” What better title from the queen of laid-back delivery? Here are 11 standards with fresh looks. It’s album 13 for Krall and a lucky one for the smoky-voiced pianist, each cut a gem.
Krall starts out with the lesser known Van Heusen and Burke song “Like Someone in Love,” introduced by Dinah Shore in the even less known 1944 film “Belle of the Yukon.” Here we get a trio extraordinaire: Krall, bassist Christian McBride and guitarist Russell Malone (both jazz artists in residence at MSU in the last two years). And who would have complained about an entire album of just that crew?
But from there, “Turn Up The Quiet” provides lush orchestrations of “Isn’t It Romantic,” “Night and Day,” “Sway” and “Dream” with no fewer than 13 violins, four violas and four celli. Isn’t it romantic is right.
The album features sexy photos of Krall, none more so than of her sprawled across the bed in a hot red dress, and her rendition of “Sway” is even hotter. Krall’s smoldering delivery of this 1953 Rumba number invokes Peggy Lee. (And if anyone can point me to a recording by Lee of this song, please do.)
But wait. Like the opener, we get six more songs featuring jazz combos with various casts. Following string-heavy “Dream” (credited oddly to John H. Mercer) is 1924’s Gus Kahn/Isham Jones’ “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” with a swinging fiddle solo by Stuart Duncan. And Krall pays a hip tribute to Nat King Cole with “L-O-V-E” (“L is for the way you look at me”) with stellar support from John Clayton Jr. on bass, Jeff Hamilton on drums and Anthony Wilson on guitar.
The album ends with the orphan Side C with three numbers. The first two are accented with Duncan’s fiddle: the up-tempo “I’m Confessin’ (That I Love you)” and the ballad “Moonglow,” with Tony Garnier on bass, Karriem Riggins on drums and Marc Ribot on guitar making up the rest of the ensemble, all orchestrated by Krall.
The closer brings back McBride and Malone for Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies.”
Krall launches it in the simplest fashion possible, just short of a capella, befitting the classic simplicity of the lyrics:
“Blue skies/Smiling at me/Nothing but blue skies/Do I see.” Then she, McBride and Malone swing to perfection.
If only there was a side four.