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Among contemporary musicians, few have been able to bring as fresh and sincere approach to the holidays as Harry Connick, Jr. He not only interprets seasonal standards in the spirit that is at the core of all of his singing and playing, but he also has written several compositions that are gaining annual traction. With two best-selling holiday discs already to his credit, Connick is releasing What a Night! – A Christmas Album tomorrow (November 4) on Columbia, where he makes his vocal home. (Connick does his instrumental recording here at Marsalis Music, with last year’s Chanson du Vieux Carre the third volume in his series Connick on Piano.) Among the highlights on What a Night! are “Song for the Hopeful,” a duet with gospel great Kim Burrell that was recently featured in the Lifetime Network film Living Proof in which Connick starred, and the way in which swing, funk and the blues enlivens the likes of “We Three Kings” and “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”
“The Happy Elf,” one of the most popular songs from Connick’s 2003 album Harry for the Holidays, has already spawned an animated children’s television special and now appears as a family musical at Milwaukee’s First Stage Children’s Theater, in a production beginning on November 28 and running through Christmas. For his part, Connick and big band will be visiting stages across the US on a tour that begins in Louisville on November 18.