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Monday, July 26, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 159

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Connick wows crowd with smooth jazz sound

By Jason Caesar Consolacion
Sports Editor 

The Frank Sinatra of our generation was in town Wednesday to present a performance that probably could not be duplicated by many others.

Harry Connick Jr. returned to Houston with his big band for a memorable night at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. After the Ned Goold Trio warmed up the crowd with a set of combo tunes, the New Orleans-born crooner put on a two-and-one-quarter-hour set full of jazz originals and standards.

After opening with the Mercer and Mancini classic "Charade," Connick treated his fans to some old favorites like the original "We Are in Love" and the Rodgers and Hart hit "I Could Write a Book."

He then performed some of his newly recorded material from his latest release, Come By Me, including "Nowhere With Love" and the standard "Time After Time," which featured a wonderful instrumental segment between Connick and his big band.

The singer/composer/actor then did something that was really unexpected -- he devoted the next hour of the show mostly to covers that are not present on any Connick albums. Even more surprising was that they were probably the best numbers of the concert.


Max Lacayo/The Daily Cougar


Musician and actor Harry Connick, Jr. perofrmed his impressive set for an appreciative audience Wednesday night at the Woodlands Pavilion.

Performing favorites by Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, among others, Connick rolled out a collage of tunes that included "In the Still of the Night," "You're Sensational," "So in Love," "Sugar Blues" and the Duke Ellington classic "C-Jam Blues (Duke's Place)."

Unfortunately, Connick, who was sporting a small bandage on his left thumb, stayed away from the piano for nearly half the show. Nevertheless, when he did sit down to tickle the ivories, the Steinway concert grand sounded fantastic.

Making up for Connick's handicap was the impeccable play of his big band, which he also directed. Highlighted by soloists Lucien Barbarin (trombone) and Jerry Weldon (tenor sax), the band's sound was crisp and together throughout the show, especially on "Goin' to the Mardi Gras" and the big-band version of Connick's funk original "Mind on the Matter."

But the musician who stole the show was trumpeter Leroy Jones. He took a few minutes from Connick's groove, offering an instrumental and vocal rendition of "What a Wonderful World."

Connick went on to perform more from his new CD, including the Arthur Hamilton classic "Cry Me a River." He also touched on a few of his older recordings like Lerner and Lowe's "On the Street Where You Live" and the standard "It Had to Be You," which he recorded for the When Harry Met Sally... soundtrack.

The artist culminated the evening with an outstanding performance of his new title track, "Come By Me," and the encore, "Al," a ripping instrumental that once again showed off the talents of his big band and his own talent as an arranger.

Connick's ability as a composer/arranger has matured to an amazing level at for an artist who is only 30. Every number performed that night was arranged by Connick himself, including a few that he dropped on the band's music stands earlier that day. No one could tell the big band was performing them for the first time.

The entertainer was very crowd-friendly as well, communicating constantly with the audience and making the crowd laugh most of the time. Clad in rather laid-back, dark attire, Connick appeared to be having the time of his life, playing the music that made him happy.

With an audience that ranged from toddlers to teens and professional adults to senior citizens, it was hard to tell whether fans were there because of Connick the movie star or Connick the jazz musician.

Nevertheless, his performance was like no other, and it helped highlight his true musical genius.
 

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