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Harry Connick Jr.: Other Hours

Oh, if only Harry Connick Jr. were a less ambitious entertainer. As a singer he’s made his name “household.” As Hollywood Harry, the chiseled heartthrob has scored oodles of screen time with Sandra Bullock and Cindy Crawford, among other hotties. That’s all good for him, but Connick’s crooning and acting career has kept us from receiving more gems like Other Hours-instrumental albums where Harry the Pianist proves his name deserves the recognition.

At a time when so many CD runtimes are padded with stale warhorses, finding a disc of swinging straightahead tunes we haven’t heard a billion times before is refreshing. Though Connick didn’t scribe anything on Other Hours that truly sticks in the skull, he and his quartet create intricacies within these dozen tunes that at least tickle the brain for a moment even if they can’t live there for a while. Charles “Ned” Goold’s tenor pops in and out playfully with Charlie Rouse-like precision, and Connick’s frequent, clustered doodles are funky mind-benders that I had forgotten him capable of performing.

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