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Harry Connick Jr. Trio - Music From The Happy Elf

Publication: Something Else!
Author: Nick DeRiso
Date: December 18, 2011

This plays like Vince Guaraldi for a new generation, as Harry Connick Jr. performs an all-original, Christmas-themed set that recalls the spirit of the season without falling into the cliches that often follow better known Yuletide classics.

And Connick’s done his share — including the 2003 best-selling album Harry for the Holidays, which featured the original vocal version of “The Happy Elf.” There followed a TV program, a stage production and a new children’s book on the same theme — about this helper for Santa who saves a town full of naughty youngsters from missing out on Christmas.

Music from ‘The Happy Elf’, however, stays well away from his earlier holiday projects’ often very standard fare, not to mention their more-expected singer-led big band arrangements. This album — his fourth in the Connick on Piano series for Marsalis Music — instead is, after its first-track reading from the new book, a cleverly delivered trio recording that surprises as often as it delights. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 19th, 2011 — 12:49pm

Dan Bilawsky's Best Releases of 2011

Publication: All About Jazz
Author: Dan Bilawsky
Date: December 18, 2011

Another year is in the books, but the music created and/or released during these twelve months is still around, continuing to serve as a reminder of jazz’s majesty. While some continue to complain that jazz is stagnant or at death’s door, the finest albums released in 2011 say otherwise. I had the distinct pleasure of reviewing approximately 170 recordings released in this calendar year, and the following list represents the best of the bunch.

Click here to see Dan’s picks, including Miguel Zenón’s Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook! Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 19th, 2011 — 10:15am

Harry Connick, Jr.: Music From The Happy Elf (2011)

Publication: All About Jazz
Author: Dan Bilawsky
Date: December 18, 2011

“The Happy Elf” is just one of many numbers that Harry Connick, Jr. dished out on Harry For The Holidays (Sony/Columbia, 2003), but this particular song proved to be the seed for cross-marketing manna, which makes it a microcosm of the man himself. Connick has crooned his way into the hearts of millions, proven himself on piano time and again, conquered the silver screen, and taken Broadway by storm, but his most heartwarming talent may be that of “children’s entertainer.”

The opening track, which puts the music in the background and Connick’s Read-Along narration of his book in the foreground, highlights this new found role for the entertainer par excellence, but his piano takes its rightful place at center stage on the rest of the album. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 19th, 2011 — 10:55am

Joey Calderazzo: Improviser in Top Form

Publication: All About Jazz
Author: R.J. DeLuke
Date: December 19, 2011

Creative musicians are generally an insightful lot: people that have curious minds but also have a sense of direction—a sense of purpose, if not a search for it. They express what they see, what they experience. Pianist Joey Calderazzo is among those.

A man of extraordinary talent at the keyboard, he’s held the piano chair in Branford Marsalis’ band for some 11 years and also spent a long tenure with Michael Brecker. Both of those men have had a huge influence on Calderazzo, and he is unabashed about saying so. He carries lessons learned from those relationships. He also stays in touch with what fellow pianists are doing and with what’s happening on the music scene. He’s interested in probing music, not just playing it.

He’s currently leading his own trio, while still being a vital cog in the Marsalis organization. In fact, 2011 saw the release of a duet record with Marsalis—Songs of Mirth and Melancholy (Marsalis Music)—and the recording of a new Marsalis quartet album to be released in 2012. It has no title yet, but Calderazzo is high on it. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 19th, 2011 — 10:48am

Nate Chinen's Favorite Releases of 2011: Sounds That Come From in the Head and on the Street

Publication: New York Times
Author: Nate Chinen
Date: December 15, 2011

MIGUEL ZENÓN “Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook” (Marsalis Music) The dragonfly speed and lightness of Mr. Zenón’s alto saxophone playing is reason enough to love this meditation on the music of his homeland. So too is his liberal approach to the repertory, mostly classic boleros and ballads, furnished with woodwind orchestrations by Guillermo Klein.

To read the rest of Chinen’s picks, please visit the original article. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 16th, 2011 — 10:51am

Miguel Zenón's Alma Adentro Receives Top Honors from iTunes!

Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook is the iTunes Rewind 2011 Jazz Instrumental Album of the Year! To see a full list of Apple’s picks for music, television, apps and more, visit here: http://tw.itunes.com/Ib4
  

Submitted by Courtney on December 15th, 2011 — 11:34am

Harry Connick, Jr. – Music From The Happy Elf

Publication: The JazzPage
Author: Glenn Daniels
Date: December 9, 2011

If you’ve turned on a television any time during the yuletide season in most of the last decade, you’ve probably caught a glimpse of The Happy Elf animated special. Pianist and vocalist Harry Connick Jr is out with a collection of the music from that production, for which he created the original music. The tunes which accompany the story of Eubie, an ebullient little elf who wants to be part of Santa’s sleigh team is now released for the first time in an album package. Connick provides a colorful narrative reading with music at the beginning of project, but it’s his evocative piano work that is at the center of this effort. Joining him are bassist Neal Caine and drummer Arthur Latin, both longtime players in his big band. Even with though title and theme are holiday related, the music here is swinging and bluesy enough to enjoy anytime of the year. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 14th, 2011 — 09:38am

Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo – Songs of Mirth and Melancholy - Instrumental supremos

Publication: The Citizen
Author: Bruce Dennill
Date: December 13, 2011

7/10 BRANFORD MARSALIS AND JOEY CALDERAZZO – SONGS OF MIRTH AND MELANCHOLY (UNIVERSAL)

Branford Marsalis had, for many years, the privilege of playing with piano genius Kenny Kirkland.

Collaborating with two talents of that ilk is not something many musicians will be able to boast about, but Marsalis has lucked out: new musical partner Joey Calderazzo is a keyboard wizard.

Calderazzo is a wonderful writer as well – his One Way is the sort of cheerfully complex, melodious stuff that makes the job of the jazz apologist supremely easy. He’s able to feel as well as Marsalis, matching the latter’s The Bard Lachrymose with his own La Valse Kendall. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 14th, 2011 — 09:36am

The best (and worst) music of 2011: Hank Shteamer's picks

Publication: Time Out New York
Author: Hank Shteamer
Date: December 11, 2011

The best albums

1 Frank Ocean, Nostalgia, Ultra (self-released)
To say that this 24-year-old crooner had a banner year would be like labeling the sun a pretty bright star; but even alongside guest spots on Tyler, the Creator’s Goblin and Jay-Z and Kanye’s Watch the Throne, Ocean’s own debut—a challenging, charming, beautifully paced set of indie R&B—stood way out.

2 Anthrax, Worship Music (Megaforce)
Opening for their old-school thrash peers on the Big 4 tour, these NYC veterans drew bottom billing, yet they emerged triumphant on this hook-saturated fist-pumper of a comeback LP.

3 Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo, Songs of Mirth and Melancholy (Marsalis Music)
One of our few household-name jazzmen and his first-call pianist stepped away from their signature quartet and produced a duo session so stately, it felt avant-garde. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 13th, 2011 — 04:15pm

It’s the most jazz-list-y time of the year

Publication: Ottawa Citizen Jazzblog
Author: Peter Hum
Date: December 12, 2011

The jazz punditocracy has been weighing in on top jazz CDs of 2011:

The list from Patrick Jarenwattananon at NPR’s A Blog Supreme skews to the younger end of the jazz talent spectrum. Miguel Zenón (Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook) and Gretchen Parlato (The Lost and Found) get nods, for example, for their 2011 CDs, while Sonny Rollins does not, for example. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 13th, 2011 — 11:35am