piano trio

Critic's picks: Harry Connick, Jr. Trio, 'Music From The Happy Elf'; Ellis Marsalis, 'A New Orleans Christmas Carol'; Geri Allen, 'A Child Is Born'

Publication: Lexington Herald-Leader
Author: Walter Tunis
Date: December 12, 2011

How curious it is that three of the finer releases in an especially weak pack of new holiday recordings belong to jazz pianists whose take on yuletide sounds could not be more varied?

Pianist Harry Connick Jr.’s Music From The Happy Elf may be the most unexpected of the three. A veteran of several Christmas-themed recordings that showcase his big band and traditional (as well as overtly commercial) pop preferences, Elf presents the pianist in one of his most inviting and overlooked settings: the piano trio.

It’s hard not to smile at the percussive cracks of drummer Arthur Larkin and Connick’s sparse piano mischief during Naughty Children of Bluesville (which sounds like O Tannenbaum trying to escape from a blues cellar) or the way the light, lullaby turns of Christmas Day melt into the intimate swing of What a Night.

Music From The Happy Elf is, aside from a 10-minute opening medley with narration, completely instrumental. Add to that the fact that all of the music is original (but revisited from works Connick composed for the stage musical The Happy Elf) and you have a holiday recording risky and refreshing. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 12th, 2011 — 04:58pm