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Harry Connick, Jr.: Come By Me

Harry Connick, Jr.

The jazz world can be a cruel and fickle mistress when it comes to artists who pass through it, move on, and come knocking again. A dozen years ago, Harry Connick, Jr. came bounding into the realm of jazz, a promising young pianist out of New Orleans. Along the way, he became a matinee idol and seemed to be seduced by other, more glamorous and lucrative niches of culture: he was in the movies, married a lingerie model, put out an under-ripe album recorded when he was 11, and shrewdly played up his chip-off-the-Sinatra-block persona. The further he ventured into status as a general public celebrity, the further away from jazz’ embrace he got.

But times have changed, and old scores are settling. Either his recent recordings are more mature, or we’re letting our defenses down and getting tired of dismissing him on principle. Whatever the case, having landed and ripened in his third decade, Connick, Jr. is easier to accept for his inherent musical virtues. Those qualities-as a pianist of simple, melodic and funk-ish gifts, an unpretentious, suave-toned vocalist, and a composer-arranger with a taste for big band and orchestral tailoring-come together handily on his new one. Is it high art? Not exactly. Is it good clean fun, lined with easy-going musicality, sprinklings of camp, and agreeably swank production? You bet.

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