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Some music is intended to paint a romantic scene — a candlelit dinner, a walk along a moonlit beach. Quiet Nights — DIANA KRALL’s twelfth album — ain’t about that. Using Brazil as a musical point of reference, the award-winning pianist and singer is not suggesting a night out; she means to stay in.
It makes sense that Quiet Nights (also the English name of the bossa nova classic “Corcovado” that is the title track) draws much of its musical spirit from the land that puts the “carnal” into its annual Carnaval celebration. “I was inspired to do this record because of my trip last year to Brazil,” says Krall, who returned to Rio de Janeiro to shoot a concert for a new DVD release. “Then I just kept going back and found that everywhere you go you still hear the sounds of Jobim and bossa nova.”
Krall — at the age of 47 — has experience in her favor. Born in Nanaimo, Canada, to a musical family — her father is a stride-style pianist and serious record collector — she grew up absorbing music that guided her future growth. She attended Berklee School of Music in the early ’80s, then moved to Los Angeles where she continued her studies with bassists Ray Brown and John Clayton, drummer Jeff Hamilton, and pianist Jimmy Rowles; Rowles convinced the young pianist to focus on her singing as well. By 1990, Krall relocated to New York City and began performing with a trio, and in 1993, she released her debut album on a small Canadian independent label.
She can look back over a stellar career path: in ’99, signed to Verve, her career exploded when When I Look in Your Eyes won a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal and became the first jazz disc to be nominated for Album of the Year in 25 years. In 2002, The Look of Love was a No. 1 bestseller in the U.S. and a five-time platinum album in Canada. 2004’s The Girl in the Other Room was her first to focus on her own songwriting (with six tunes co-written with husband Elvis Costello); 2005’s Christmas Songs proved one of the season’s best-sellers; and 2006’s From This Moment On was an upbeat, critical success that coincided with the birth of her twin sons.
As moving as Quiet Nights is — deriving from Krall’s feelings for Brazil and bossa novas — the singer is not shy in admitting that its sensuality is as much about her home life. “It’s my love letter to my husband — just an intimate, romantic album.” As they say in Rio — obrigado!