Copyright ©2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Right now, at the top of Billboard's jazz albums chart, you'll find Diana Krall.

(Soundbite of song, "Quiet Nights")

Ms. DIANA KRALL (Singer): (Singing) Quiet nights of quiet stars, quiet chords from my guitar.

SIEGEL: That's from "Quiet Nights," Krall's collection of Brazilian tunes. Our critic Tom Moon recently encountered a Mexican jazz singer who is working in territory similar to Diana Krall. You might not be seeing Magos Herrera top the charts yet, but Tom Moon says what she's doing is even more compelling than Diana Krall.

TOM MOON: There's absolutely nothing wrong with Diana Krall's "Quiet Nights." It's got the lush studio string, the yearning melody. It's sultry mood music for a romantic sunset.

(Soundbite of song, "Quiet Nights")

Ms. KRALL: (Singing) This is where I want to be, here with you so close to me…

MOON: Krall caught every last detail, that's for sure, but hers is just one approach. Listen to the way the virtually unknown Magos Herrera sings a tune by the same composer, the great Antonio Carlos Jobim.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. MAGOS HERRERA (Singer): (Singing in foreign language)

MOON: Herrera didn't have the Diana Krall budget. Her record, "Distancia," was made with a small group of New York musicians in just a few days. What she does have is a great sense of understatement, that rare ability to shape a melody with slight, seemingly casual gestures.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. HERRERA: (Singing in foreign language)

MOON: There's a theme running through "Distancia": Herrera selected tunes that express longing for the lover who's far away and maybe gone forever, and that same idea is present in the poetic, astonishingly beautiful songs she wrote herself. Here's one of her originals.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. HERRERA: (Singing in foreign language)

MOON: Mexican-born Magos Herrera sings in Spanish, English and Portuguese. But really, what she does on "Distancia" transcends language. Blending elements from various traditions, she's stretching the very notion of jazz singing, pushing past the diva pleasantries into a sound that's bold and thrilling and effortlessly global.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. HERRERA: (Singing in foreign language)

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.