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Harry Connick Jr.: Chanson du Vieux Carre (2007)

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Harry Connick Jr.: Chanson du Vieux Carre No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Simply because it was produced prior to Hurricane Katrina's devastating impact, Harry Connick Jr.'s New Orleans-themed album, Chanson du Veux Carré, has a different texture and tone than many of the impressive tribute albums the jazz world has delivered since that tragic event transpired. While many have sounded themes of lament, nostalgia, defiance, outrage and hope, Connick's venture is pure celebration—innocently recorded before Katrina transformed New Orleans into a symbol of loss, abandonment and political failure.

Conceived as a companion to the vocal album Oh, My Nola (Sony, 2007), Chanson is the third release in Marsalis Music's Connick on Piano series. It focuses as much on Connick's skills as an arranger as his piano chops. The album presents twelve big band tracks, including three penned by Connick, that effectively explore the diverse tapestry of New Orleans' native music. Included are de rigueur tunes by Armstrong ("Someday You'll be Sorry ), Bechet ("Petite Fleur ) and Professor Longhair ("Mardis Gras in New Orleans ), all of which receive appropriately respectful and clever treatments.

The highlights, however, are an uplifting take on "Bourbon Street Parade, replete with jaunty rhythm, swinging vocals and a superb trombone solo; Connick's slinky "Luscious and intriguingly arranged "Ash Wednesday ; and Hoagy Carmichael's sentimental excursion "New Orleans, with its luxuriant tempo, lopping horns, and sensual piano.

Excellently performed by a tight-knit cadre of musicians, Chanson delivers a reminder of the numerous contributions the great city of New Orleans has made to American culture by freezing in time a native artist's vision of its rich musical character at a time before the levees broke. (Appropriately, a portion of all proceeds from the album will be donated to New Orleans Habitat Musicians' Village, a project established by Connick and Branford Marsalis to provide affordable housing for displaced musicians and other families.)

Track Listing: Someday Youll be Sorry; Panama; Ash Wednesday; Chanson du Vieux Carr; Bourbon Street Parade; Petite Fleur; Fidgety Feet; Luscious; New Orleans; I Still Get Jealous; Thats a Plenty; Mardis Gras in New Orleans.

Personnel: Harry Connick Jr.: piano; Neal Caine: bass; Arthur Latin: drums; Charles ned Goold: alto saxophone; James Greene: alto saxophone; Jerry Weldon: tenor saxophone ; Mike Karn: tenor saxophone; Dave Schumacher: baritone saxophone; Roger Ingram: trumpet; Derrick Gardner: trumpet; Leroy Jones: trumpet, vocals; Joe Magnarelli: trumpet; Mark Mullins: trombone; Craig Klein: trombone; John Allred: trombone; Lucien Barbarin: trombone, vocals; Joe Barati: bass trombone.

Record Label: Marsalis Music

Style: Big Band


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