AOM Logo November 2001

Harry Connick Jr.: 30


Michael McClennan

Cover Image

Somewhere along the way, vocal jazz started to lose its charm. Somehow, we began to believe that overdubbing and editing every nuance of a recorded performance was not only acceptable, but was commonplace. How refreshing then to hear a recording like Harry Connick Jr.'s 30.

The solo piano and voice on 30 are recorded truthfully. One gets the sense that Connick would sound like this in person. Perhaps due to his commercial success, Connick is often unappreciated in jazz circles. To hear a young pianist who not only plays brilliantly, but also entertains, is a rarity.

Harry Connick Jr.

Following in the footsteps of 20 and 25, 30 was recorded during Harry Connick's 30th year. Fans will be interested in following the growth of the artist. He has always been a captivating musician, but maturity has provided subtlety, restraint, and a deepening knowledge of his instruments and repertoire. He has learned the effect of nuance -- listen to the piano solo of The Gypsy to hear him hold back just enough to entice the audience; a left hand ostinato with a running right hand that creates a sum of two parts, and no more. Chattanooga Choo Choo provides a vehicle to show some flash. We have Harry the entertainer, not forgetting good taste.

The comparison to Sinatra was hard to deny when Connick first came on the scene. There is one undeniable difference -- Hoboken versus New Orleans. The bayou has an influence that Sinatra lacked. This grit in the voice, the accent, and the groove all give Connick his own sound. It also gives him ownership to tunes like New Orleans and Way Down Yonder in New Orleans, both of which appear here.

Although recorded in 1998, the liner notes were written September 10, 2001, one day before his 34th birthday. With that date in mind, I look forward to hearing what 35 will bring, not only for Harry Connick's life, but also for all of us.

[More information about Harry Connick Jr. may be found at his official site -- Ed]

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