Harry Connick, Jr. News

Harry Connick Jr. gets his Christmas groove on

Publication: Indianapolis Star
Author: Jay Harvey
Date: November 28, 2011

Critics tend to turn sour (I know: How can anyone tell, right?) when they  reread news releases just before setting down their own thoughts on one or another Cultural Product. Videlicet: I wish Marsalis Music hadn’t called Harry Connick Jr.’s “Music from The Happy Elf” CD “ a “new instrumental holiday classic. ” True, Connick’s story about Eubie has a back story that indicates success, including use of the material to inspire a Christmas TV special and a stage musical. Now it’s a picture book, too, and the CD opens with Connick doing a spirited “read-along” version of “The Happy Elf” before he and his trio settle into a lively program of the tunes Connick created for the show.

But I come to praise this CD, not to bury it. The music on its own makes for a great introduction to jazz for young people — as catchy as Vince Guaraldi’s fabled “Charlie Brown Christmas” tunes, but a bit rangier in the improvised portions. Connick has come up with something infectious rhythmically or melodically in these dozen tunes. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 29th, 2011 — 05:57pm

Kickin' out yuletide jams: Holiday CDs range from the wonderful to the bizarre

Publication: The Detroit News
Authors: Susan Whitall & Adam Graham
Date: November 29, 2011

“The Happy Elf,” Harry Connick Jr. Trio (Marsalis Music)

This companion disc to Connick’s picture book of the same name published by Harper Collins (not to mention, the “Happy Elf” musical) is a winsome album of piano trio jazz with the add-on of a spoken-word track. On it, Connick (the father of three) tells the story of the “happy elf” who figures out how to help Bluesville, a town full of children who are all too naughty for presents from Santa. Accompanied by bassist Neal Caine and drummer Arthur Latin, Connick doesn’t sing, but plays in the Nat King Cole trio style, with an extra emphasis on bluesy improvisation on the 11 songs he wrote. His piano work is particularly evocative on the melancholy “Christmas Day.” GRADE: A- Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 29th, 2011 — 12:57pm

Harry Connick Jr. Trio "The Happy Elf"

Publication: BuffaloNews.com
Author: Jeff Simon
Date: November 20, 2011

Among the many things this disc isn’t are the following: 1) A children’s record, despite the original Connick story (published by HarperCollins) the pianist reads on its opening 10-minute cut and 2) A negligible throwaway in the blizzard of questionable “seasonal goods” right about now. While it presents trio variations on Connick’s music for his “Happy Elf” stage musical with bassist Neal Caine and drummer Arthur Latin, its pleasure is the pleasure of listening to some of Connick’s most clever and rhythmically winsome piano-playing on disc in quite a while. It is, in fact, the fourth in a series of Harry-and-piano that has so far appeared on the label of his old New Orleans friends Wynton and Branford Marsalis. Think of it, minus a semi-ignorable narrative, as a hugely welcome and entirely original disc of Connick piano jazz. Praise be to the holiday season for giving Harry “permission” to make it. Three stars out of four.

*Note from Marsalis Music: Wynton Marsalis is not involved with our label.

Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 22nd, 2011 — 03:24pm

16 Christmas Discs for the 2011 Holidays

Publication: Audiophile Audition
Author: John Henry
Date: November 16, 2011

Harry Connick, Jr. Trio – The Happy Elf – Marsalis Music   *****

(Harry Connick, Jr. – piano; Neal Caine – bass; Arthur Latin – drums)

Arriving just in the nick of time to get included herewith, this becomes a new holiday classic due mainly from it being entirely new tunes, with no hackneyed , artificially jazzed-up arrangements of familiar carols. It’s also a CD for holiday get-togethers that include young ones, because it opens with a ten-minute narration by Harry of his story of The Happy Elf.  It’s a companion CD to Harry’s children’s picture book of the same name, published by Harper Collins. Employing two mainstays from his big band, Connick does trio versions of some of the tunes he originally wrote for his stage musical The Happy Elf. They constitute a variety of new takes on the tunes, and I especially liked that they’re all instrumental—no vocals. The children’s story follows Eubie, who longs to be a part of Santa’s sleigh team, but he’s stuck with compiling the naughty-or-nice lists. But then one Christmas Eve he sees that the whole town of Bluesville has not a single person having been nice, and he’s off to Bluesville to turn a whole town of naughty children nice in a day.  Eubie’s story unfolds against a swinging background of the piano trio. The story has also inspired an animated Christmas TV special. A merry addition to the mostly Christmas dreck. Recorded at the studios of WGBH in Cambridge, where I once worked. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 21st, 2011 — 12:24pm

Dolls, books give glimpse of historic New Orleans

Publication: Associated Press
Author: Chevel Johnson 
Date: September 19, 2011

New Orleans’ rich melting-pot history has always been a big draw for authors.

But telling it through the eyes of two antebellum 9-year-old girls — one black, one white — offers unusual perspectives on life’s challenges in the mid-19th century.

American Girl Brand LLC, a subsidiary of toy giant Mattel Inc., usually introduces its dolls (and the book characters based on them) one at a time.

In August, the company launched two — called Cecile Rey and Marie-Grace Gardner — along with a six-book series set in New Orleans that details their fictional lives, friendship, and tests they and family members face in dealing with the spread of yellow fever in 1853. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 20th, 2011 — 02:54pm