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Harry Connick, Jr.

 

 

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        Harry Connick, Jr. is one of the most popular jazz artists on the scene today.  He began playing piano at the age 3.  Before he turned ten, he recorded with a local New Orleans band.   He played at clubs in the French Quarter and studied piano with Ellis Marsalis (father of Wynton and Branford) and James Booker.  Marsalis has said that Connick was his most gifted student.   He also won several piano competitions while he was a student at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.

When he was 18, he moved to New York and studied at the Manhattan School of music.  He soon signed a recording contract with Columbia records and recorded his first album (self-titled) when he was 19.  The album is strictly instrumental.  He then became a hot ticket at the local New York clubs.  He recorded his second album, 20, when he was 20 (hence, the name).  On it, he debuted his wonderful singing voice.

His music caught the attention of movie director Rob Reiner, who asked Harry to record the soundtrack for his movie When Harry Met Sally, which features standard jazz classics.  The record went multi-platinum and won Connick a Grammy award.  After touring the Europe and the States, he released his next two albums, Lofty's Roach Soufflé (vocal-less trio jazz) and the multi-platinum big band swing recording We are In Love, which also won him a Grammy.  Both records featured original compositions.

In 1991, Connick released a pair of albums, 25 and 11.  Each recorded at the respective ages.  25 follows the style of 20...jazz classics with a piano, vocal, and an occasional guest artist.  In 1993, he released a very successful holiday album, When my Heart finds Christmas, which utilizes piano/vocal and big band swing, as well as original and classic Christmas compositions.  The record was the best selling holiday record of the season.  By this time, he had reached his peak in popularity, selling out concerts nation-wide, to go along with 2 Grammys, 1 gold album, 4 platinum albums, and 2 multi-platinum albums.

In 1994, he switched directions and started touring college campuses.  He also released another album, She, in which he starts to incorporate funk into his style.  In 1996 he recorded Star Turtle, which in my opinion, was his weakest record to date.  The record is heavily oriented towards New Orleans funk, and not much into the jazz.  In 1997, he recorded a vocal album, To See You.  (I haven't heard it, so I cannot comment on it).

Besides being a great pianist and vocalist, Connick is an accomplished actor (which has drawn comparisons between he and Frank Sinatra).   Connick has been in Jodie Foster's Little Man Tate, Memphis Belle, Copycat (where he played a serial killer!), Hope Floats, as well as a guest-star role in the TV series Cheers.


To learn more about Harry Connick, Jr, go here:

Harry Connick, Jr - The official Website.

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