For only the second time in her career, jazz pianist and vocalist Diana Krall deviates from her tried, true m.o. of covering easily identifiable jazz standards. On Glad Rag Doll she teams with producer T-Bone Burnett and his stable of studio aces. Here the two-time Grammy winner covers mostly vaudeville and jazz tunes written in the 1920s and '30s, some relatively obscure. Most of the music here is from her father's collection of 78-rpm records. Krall picked 35 tunes from that music library and gave sheet music to Burnett. He didn't reveal his final selections until they got into the studio. Given their origins, these songs remove the sheen of detached cool that is one of Krall's vocal trademarks. Check the speakeasy feel on opener "We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye," with Marc Ribot's airy chords, Jay Bellerose's loose shuffle, and Dennis Crouch's strolling upright bass. Krall's vocal actually seems to express delight in this loose and informal proceeding – though her piano playing is, as usual, tight, top-notch.
Bossa nova is not unfamiliar to Diana Krall, but 2009's Quiet Nights is her first record devoted to the gently swaying rhythm. Teaming up again with arranger Claus Ogerman, who last worked with Krall on 2001's The Look of Love and who also frequently collaborated with bossa nova godfather Antonio Carlos Jobim, Krall winds up with a mellow, lazy album that recalls the relaxed late-night sophistication of Jobim's duet album with Frank Sinatra, which Ogerman also happened to arrange and conduct. It's not just the sound, it's the songs: how '60s standards like Bacharach/David's "Walk on By" sit next to three Jobim tunes, a song by Marcos Valle ("So Nice"), and a few American Songbook standards placed at the beginning, the better to ease listeners into purer bossa nova at the end.
Bear Family, the venerable German label that does reissue boxes of U.S. artists better than any American label – with the possible exception of Mosaic – has taken the cream of Kitty Wells' career and issued one of the most historically important collections in the history of country music. The Queen of Country Music is a four-CD box, with exhaustive biographical and session notes by Charles Wolfe that document, in their entirety, nine years of Ms. Wells career, from its inception through to its turning point and superstardom, the years 1949 to 1958; there are 114 tracks in all. Along with every major hit and B-side from the eras, the set includes classic original versions of "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," "Hey Joe!," "I Hear the Jukebox Playing," "Lonely Side of Town," "Making Believe," "Dust on the Bible," "The Place That Kills," "Right or Wrong," "Just When I Needed You," "The Great Speckled Bird," "Jealousy," and many others.