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Occasion: Connick on Piano 2

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Album Review

Harry Connick, Jr.'s Occasion: Connick on Piano, Vol.2, the follow-up to 2003's Other Hours: Connick on Piano, Vol. 1, finds the jazz pianist in an intimate duo setting with saxophonist and Marsalis Music label owner Branford Marsalis. While well known as a jazz vocalist, Connick's intention on these volumes is to focus solely on his abilities as both an instrumentalist and composer. As such, Occasion is a cerebral, intimate, and heartfelt recording with Connick and Marsalis holding musical "conversations" with each other on original songs. In fact, as with Other Hours, which featured songs culled from Connick's 2001 Tony-nominated musical Thou Shalt Not, many of the songs here play as instrumental readings of new American popular songs. Which is to say that Connick has a deft knack for sweet and gorgeous melody. Couple that with Marsalis' and Connick's superb improvisational chops and you get a supremely listenable "occasion" with both musicians feeding off each other's ideas with sensitivity and joy. To these ends, the sprightly and urbane title track written by Marsalis finds the duo swinging '30s style, while "I Like Love More" is a Broadway-worthy ballad evoking a romantic melancholia reminiscent of the best George Gershwin standards. Similarly, the classical-sounding "Steve Lacy" — also written by Marsalis — finds the reedman in impressionistic mood on the soprano sax, and "Remember the Tarpon" is a bluesy and darkly humorous off-kilter creeper featuring a Earl Hines-esque ending passage from Connick.

Customer Reviews

Jazz For It's Own Sake

This album isn't very good. Harry Connick Jr. is a very talented singer and performer, and he is a very good-looking guy who happens to act in movies as well. It seems that all such gifted individuals need to prove their bona fides by making an album that shows off that they are more than a pretty-faced crooner, that they have chops as well as looks, and can play endless sixteenth notes as well as sing a lovely tune. Well ... I guess Harry proved that here, but he did so at the expense of an album that is boring, atonal and will only appeal to other jazz "purists" who disdain melody and line in favor of technical prowess and hipster attitude. File this one under "Hey, look at me! I can play jazz!" I want my money back.


Born: September 11, 1967 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

With very few exceptions, the career of Harry Connick, Jr., can be divided in half -- his first two albums encompassed straight-ahead New Orleans jazz and stride piano while his later career (which paralleled his rising celebrity status) alternated between more contemporary New Orleans music and pop vocals with a debt to Frank Sinatra. Born in New Orleans on September 11, 1967, Connick grew up the son of two lawyers who owned a record store. After beginning on keyboards at the age of three, he first...
Full Bio