HARRY CONNICK JR.!
If there ever was a pianist with an intimate connection with his instrument, it’s Harry Connick Jr.
Last night at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, Connick showed off his singing chops on stylized samplings from the Great American Songbook, but it was when he sat down at the piano to ‘go New Orleans’ that both Connick and the concert came alive.
Connick has excellent control and a more than pleasant tone to his voice, but there is little of distinguishing character. It’s all rather pleasant, but honestly, a bit boring. But put the man’s fingers on a keyboard and turn him loose on a rag and he’s the equal of Big Tiny Little, Joe ‘Fingers’ Carr, or any other black and white plunker you care to name.
Connick has a decent-sized following, but it is still a nitch audience. I’m in that nitch, but I’m there for his jazz stylings. He can’t touch Michael Bublé on the standards, but when he’s doing his thing on the piano, he’s law unto himself.
Last night was an outstanding concert employing fourteen musicians in Connick’s big band. But for all the jumping and jiving, it was Connick on the piano, playing with his drummer and bassist as a trio, that made the music special.