harry connick jr.

Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis join forces to raise funds for the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music

Publication: Nola.com
Author: Erika Goldring
Date: February 5, 2014

It was a daytime luncheon and concert, unusual for the Civic Theatre, but the crowds were just as enthused to be there. It was a benefit for the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, located in the Musicians’ Village in the city’s Upper Ninth Ward. The Village was founded by native New Orleanians Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis, and constructed by Habitat for Humanity, as affordable housing for musicians and to create a sense of shared community.

So whom else would the Center ask, other than Connick and Marsalis, to help raise funds! The concert, on Tuesday (Feb. 4), not only featured performances from Connick — now on TV every Wednesday and Thursday nights for “American Idol” — as well as from Branford Marsalis (his father is Ellis Marsalis), Stephen Walker, Dewey Sampson, Andrew Baham and Ricky Sebastian and students from the Center, among others. Read more »

Harry Connick Jr., Branford Marsalis lead tribute to the late Bob French

Publication: The Times-Picayune
Author: Keith Spera
Date: December 5, 2012

Among other, sometimes less flattering designations, Bob French was considered the unofficial mayor of the Musicians’ Village. In November, he also became the first of its residents to die.

On the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 4, Harry Connick Jr., Branford Marsalis and their manager, Ann Marie Wilkins, the trio who championed the construction of the Musicians’ Village after Hurricane Katrina, hosted a private memorial concert for French, the longtime leader and drummer of the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band and an especially colorful WWOZ-FM deejay.

Over the decades, French mentored scores of young musicians, including Connick and Marsalis. After their success and fame had far surpassed that of their mentor, they returned the favor. Read more »

Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis explore their family trees on PBS' 'Finding Your Roots'

Publication: Nola.com
Author: Dave Walker
Date: March 25, 2012

The genealogy surprises revealed to Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., in the latest installment of Gates’ “Finding Your Roots” series for PBS are so much fun they could count as story spoilers. So, if you want those surprises preserved, feel free to now skip ahead a few paragraphs knowing that a couple of New Orleans’ favorite sons meet some great-great-greats they couldn’t have imagined having. Spoilers a-comin’.

The episode airs at 7 p.m. Sunday (March 25), followed by a second hour in which Gates does similar digging for Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

The Marsalis musical dynasty, it turns out, is the product of the mid-1800s union of a German immigrant and a free woman of color.

The couple couldn’t marry, and their relationship – which produced seven children – was a statistical rarity.

“They had a relationship of mutuality and love and that kept them together, and that’s really neat,” Gates said during a recent phone interview. “Here’s something that will never be lost now for the Marsalis family, that they’re descended from this white man who defied all the common prejudices of the time. He gets off the boat and the first thing he sees is this beautiful free Negro woman, and boom they have seven children. Can you imagine writing home? Read more »

'Finding Your Roots' enlightens, inspires family history work

Publication: Deseret News
Date: March 24, 2012
Author: Tiffany Shill

PBS’s 10-part series “Finding Your Roots” illustrates how researchers never quite know what they’ll find when looking into family history, whether it’s in a public record, through the Internet or a story passed down from generations.

Finding your Roots,” which premieres Sunday, March 25, at 7 p.m. on KUED, Ch. 7, is hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University. The series looks into the family history of notable names like Samuel L. Jackson, Barbara Walters and Robert Downey Jr. Gates invites all to look back in their family lines and find what it is that makes them who they are.

“Genealogy is more popular than ever, but it’s far more than a solitary pastime,” says Gates, whose previous projects include “African American Lives” (2006), “African American Lives 2” (2008) and “Faces of America” (2010). “It’s a fascinating endeavor that can drastically alter both history and the way we think of ourselves.”

The premiere episode features guest biographies of musician/actor Harry Connick Jr. and composer/band leader Branford Marsalis. The two are “dear friends” who grew up together in New Orleans with its rich musical heritage.

It’s often been said that people in New Orleans don’t just tell history, they do history,” Gates says.

Gates uses “every tool available” to put together their “book of life.”

Genealogists help stitch together the past, using the paper trail their ancestors left behind,” Gates says.

Their story “illuminates the complicated history of race in New Orleans,” he says. Read more »

Two paths, one place: The ties that bind Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr.

Publication: USA Weekend
Author: Elyssa Gardner
Date: March 22, 2012
For a video featuring Branford and Harry, please visit the USA Weekend website.

“Ready to go?” Branford Marsalis prods Harry Connick Jr., placing his hands on Connick’s shoulders. The celebrated musicians and old friends are at a New York rehearsal hall for a photo shoot, but Connick can’t pry himself away from the piano.

It’s surely a familiar sight for Marsalis, 51, whose father, Ellis, gave Connick, 44, lessons more than four decades ago in their shared hometown, New Orleans.

Connick and Marsalis have remained close friends and collaborate on musical and philanthropic projects, such as supporting artists in their native city after Hurricane Katrina. Now, on Sunday’s Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on PBS, it is revealed that while their ancestors charted very different paths, the family trees were shaped by common historical events.

Both have European ancestors who landed in the South.

Marsalis’ maternal great-great-great-grandfather, John Reinhart Learson, immigrated to New Orleans from Germany before the Civil War. The name Marsalis, however, actually was taken from his great-grandfather’s stepfather.

“My actual great-great-grandfather was a man named Isaac Black,” Marsalis notes.

Connick’s great-great-grandfather arrived in Mobile, Ala., from Ireland and wound up a Confederate soldier in the Civil War. A bit shaken by that revelation, Connick discussed it with his buddy, who reassured him. “I said, ‘Of course he was,’” Marsalis recalls. “‘What else would he have done?’ That doesn’t have any bearing on how Harry and I are with one another. It was a different time.” Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on March 23rd, 2012 — 01:07pm

Branford Marsalis Quartet: Romare Bearden Revealed

Publication: Jazz Times
Author: Ron Wynn
Date: December 2003

Branford Marsalis’ latest session is both a celebration of an incredible artistic genius, Romare Bearden, and a marvelous salute to African-American musical heritage and tradition. It’s also another indication that Marsalis was right to desert the corporate wars and go the independent route. This disc’s nine cuts have a joyous, emphatic quality that was seldom approached on Marsalis’ final Columbia releases. There’s nothing clinical in his tone or sound, nor anything rote in his or anyone else’s solos. Marsalis’ playing reflects the passion and confidence of an improviser thoroughly immersed in each composition. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on March 9th, 2012 — 06:02pm

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

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

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

New Releases: Branford Marsalis / Joey Calderazzo

Publication: Philadelphia Inquirer
Author: Karl Stark
Date: June 26, 2011

Songs of Mirth and Melancholy
(Marsalis Music ***1/2)

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis has done duet recordings with just his father, pianist Ellis Marsalis, and fellow New Orleans native, crooner Harry Connick Jr. Here the tenor and soprano saxophonist takes up with Joey Calderazzo, the pianist of his quartet since 1998, for a session that is surprisingly sublime.

Marsalis and Calderazzo sound classical in the best jazz sense: handsome melodies creating beauty and lots of free space for interaction. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on June 27th, 2011 — 02:53pm