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Harry Connick Jr.: Smokey Mary

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Following a prolonged retreat into the worlds of pop covers and Broadway, Harry Connick Jr. is-spiritually, musically and physically-back on home turf. The last time Connick paid album-length tribute to his birthplace was in 2007, with the side-by-side post-Katrina releases Oh, My Nola and its largely instrumental companion, Chanson du Vieux Carré.

This time he’s marking a far happier occasion with a set of nine originals laid down in two New Orleans studios, plus two additional tracks lifted from his 1996 concept album, Star Turtle. Connick’s brilliantly realized intent is to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Krewe of Orpheus musical parade, which he helped create, that winds along St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street on Lundi Gras, the day before Mardi Gras. Smokey Mary (a.k.a. the Smoking Mary) is an annual parade highlight, a six-unit float shaped like a locomotive.

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