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Warm, sultry Diana Krall offers 'Quiet Nights'

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  • Diana Krall's new album, "Quiet Nights," features bossa nova interpretations
  • Singer-pianist is producing Barbara Streisand's new album
  • She's doing what she loves; "How lucky am I?" she says
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By Shanon Cook
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- The home life Diana Krall shares with husband (and fellow musical brain) Elvis Costello and their 2-year-old twin boys is a little nutty.

Diana Krall's new album, "Quiet Nights," was inspired by a trip she made to Brazil.

Diana Krall's new album, "Quiet Nights," was inspired by a trip she made to Brazil.

"It's zany in the most wonderful way," says the 44-year-old jazz singer-pianist. "You have two little boys leaping off the furniture who think they're Buzz Lightyear while we're practicing and playing. It's just a happy house."

Krall's domestic bliss -- "domestic" being a new concept for the ever-touring artist -- is suggested in the warm, intimate vibe of her latest album "Quiet Nights."

"It's a very natural process for me, making a record. It ends up being a reflection of where I am at that time. My life is just tremendous right now. It couldn't be better," she says.

No kidding. "Quiet Nights" debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 album charts last week, a career high for Krall.

A memorable trip to Brazil in 2007 inspired the Canadian chanteuse to take her 12th album in a bossa nova direction: The title track is the English version of the bossa nova classic "Corcovado." She also covers "The Girl from Ipanema" -- though naturally in her whispery rendition she flips "girl" to "boy" -- and gives a fresh spin on Frank Sinatra's "Where or When." Video Watch Krall find bliss in Brazil »

"There was something about turning 'Where or When' into a bossa nova that changes the feeling for me of the song," Krall said. "It's much more emotional than if I sang it in a swing feeling. I've always experimented with that."

Krall brought arranger and conductor Claus Ogerman on board. He was a natural, having worked with Sinatra and Brazilian singer-songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim who wrote both "Ipanema" and "Corcovado." And Krall co-produced the album with frequent collaborator Tommy LiPuma.

"One of the best parts of making a record is the dinner after where you all you go to the restaurant, you decompress, have some great wine and just tell stories and listen to Claus and Tommy and [engineer] Al Schmidt and all these people telling amazing stories," says Krall.

Diana Krall recently sat down with CNN to share some stories of her own about a teenaged letter to Oscar Peterson, idolizing Harry Connick Jr. and Mickey Mouse pancakes. The following is an edited version of the interview.

CNN: This is the first album you've made since becoming a mother. Does it feel different somehow?

Diana Krall: I think [this album reflects my present] state of mind. It's not about loss, it's not preparing for loss. I'm not peeling grapes. Life has changed a lot and it's not just about performing and touring. It's motherhood and having a home for the first time, because I've always been on the road. So it's an incredible thing to be making Mickey Mouse pancakes in the morning while you're doing your interviews.

CNN: You've been producing Barbara Streisand's new album. What has that been like?

Krall: Incredible. I just am so thrilled with her performance on this album. [She gives] one of the most incredible performances I think of her career on a song called "You Must Believe in Spring" with a great pianist from New York named Phil Charlap. It's just piano and voice and it's so incredibly stunning. She said to me, "Maybe it needs some strings or something." I said "Don't touch it! Just leave it! It's gorgeous!"

It's been great working artist to artist and we had a lot of fun. We played cards. So when there were moments in the studio where there was something technical that had to be fixed, we'd deal the cards and we'd play gin rummy, which I'm lousy at. Thank goodness.

CNN: This is the first album you've produced for another artist. Way to choose somebody really small to start off with.

Krall: She chose me! I had a few phone calls and it was a little daunting, but it was a great experience and really, really intense, as you would expect it to be.

CNN: Some people were a little put out by your record "The Girl in the Other Room" because you strayed from jazz. How did you process that reaction?

Krall: Somebody's always put out with anything I do (laughs). "Why'd you do 'The Look of Love?' " "Why don't you do 'The Look of Love' again?" I don't know! I'm too busy trying to put the Lego back in the box, and making sure nobody's eating all the Play-Doh.

That record did very well and a lot of people say to me, "That's my favorite record." And I wrote [it] with my husband, so I don't really look back. I look forward. And I've got a pretty loyal audience.

CNN: What would you say to your sons if they tell you they want to be musicians when they grow up?

Krall: They should do whatever makes them happy. This is what they know so if that's what they choose to do -- who knows. They could be like my mom and my dad and be a teacher-librarian and a chartered accountant. That's fine too.

A month ago I found this letter I wrote to Oscar Peterson when I was 16 years old and my mom had saved it for me and put it in a box in the attic. It was a five-page letter I wrote to Oscar Peterson saying, "Dear Oscar, I'm 16 years old and I hear a professional musician's life is a very difficult one but I know this is the only life I want to have." And it was really enlightening for me to see the focus of a 16-year-old. It reminded me of how much I love the music and always wanted to do what I'm doing, so how lucky am I?


CNN: But it's not all luck.

Krall: I think it's a lot of luck. I think I started in a very good time. When I went to see that film "When Harry Met Sally," and I heard Harry Connick playing the piano, I though there's somebody who's my age and he's playing the music that I love. And I felt like there was a kindred spirit and it inspired me to go, "I want to do exactly what he's doing." And I still owe a lot of thanks to Harry. I've only met him like a couple of times, but he's still a favorite artist of mine.

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