Harry Connick, Jr. - In Concert on Broadway (Columbia)
Connick's recent limited engagement at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre is terrifically preserved on this swinging 15-track disc that showcases his talents as singer, pianist and songwriter.
In the latter category, there are two selections from his 2001 musical Thou Shalt Not, including the melancholy and romantic "The Other Hours," which comes to life more fully in his interpretation, with full orchestra, than it does on either the cast recording or on his previous jazz recording of the show. Other original numbers on the disc include "Nowhere With Love" and "Bayou Maharajah," an exceptional piece for piano that is a grand mix of jagged jazz and ragtime rhythms that may evoke thoughts of George Gershwin.
In addition, Connick offers up a host of standards from both the world of musical theater and pop. He is perhaps most persuasive with the ballads "How Insensitive" and "All the Way," where his smooth suaveness is felicitously displayed. Less successful is a pairing of "My Time of Day" and "I've Never Been in Love Before" (from Guys and Dolls), where his vocals and stylings seem forced.
A good deal of the patter from the show has been preserved on the recording, capturing not only Connick's charm, but also his generosity as an artist as he continually pays his respects to the many fine musicians soloing in the numbers.
The album concludes with a trio of exuberant Mardi Gras numbers, including one from Thou Shalt Not, as well as Paul Barbarin's "Bourbon Street Parade" and Henry Roeland Byrd's "Mardi Gras in New Orleans." With these tunes, listeners may very well find themselves transported to The Big Easy. Wake up and smell the gumbo!