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Diana Krall’s Quiet Nights is an assortment of bossa nova classics and Great American Songbook selections encased in a luxurious studio-production package. On Carlos Antonio Jobim’s “Boy From Ipanema” and Cole Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” her honeyed vocals, closed mic’d pianos’ rich tonality, and longtime rhythm section’s solid backbone have never sounded better. Krall and go-to producer Tommy LiPuma manage to create lush and expansive landscapes without obscuring important nuances. Their careful weaving of Anthony Wilson’s liquid guitar fills and percussionist Paulinho da Costa’s intricate syncopation throughout the dense tapestry of a full orchestra sounds seamless.
Quiet Nights also continues a successful formula that began with Krall and Grammy Award-winning arranger Claus Ogerman’s collaboration on 2001’s The Look of Love. The problem with formulas, however, is that they often become formulaic. While there’s no denying the beauty of Ogerman’s elaborately seductive orchestration or the effectiveness of Krall’s smoky contralto on tracks such as “I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face” and “You’re My Thrill,” other numbers come across as faithful recreations void of interpretation and much inspiration. That said, the high level of professionalism and musicianship on display ensures the performances remain free of technical mistakes. Quiet Nights qualifies as one of the most polished collections of traditional pop ballads and Brazilian pearls you’ll likely hear. Listeners looking for more substance should, however, seek out the original versions.
Original Recordings Group’s RTI-pressed 45RPM reissue arrives remastered for vinyl from the original analog tapes by Bernie Grundman, who also cut the lacquers. The results signify a vast improvement over the very noisy and veiled 33RPM Verve edition and somewhat sterile-sounding CD. With Grundman’s help, dynamics and imaging are more realistic. Key micro-details also emerge, helping make this the most emotionally rewarding version of Quiet Nights I’ve heard. Too bad ORG chose to forgo packaging that meets the recording’s high standards. While the two discs are protected by vinyl sleeves, they’re crammed into a single, flimsy cardboard stock cover that contains no inserts, no liner notes, and none of the extras you might expect from a numbered remaster costing upwards of $50.
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