Latest Headlines
Posted 09.25.09

He makes New York N'awlins on the Hudson

Author: Dan Aquilante Publication: NY Post Date: September 24, 2009 Connick is a brilliant musician of many talents. He croons like the second coming of Frank. His piano work is totally inspired by the Crescent City master Professor Longhair. His patter between songs is funnier than most comics. Connick even proved he can blow some mean brass, borrowing a trumpet from a member of his large band that crowded the stage. The combination of all that -- rather than any single skill -- made his performance, supporting the release of his new record "Your Songs," awesome; jaw-dropping, heart-stoppingly terrific. And wrapped in the goodness was one song -- "The St. James Infirmary Blues" -- which totally captured the thrill. For this New Orleans classic, Connick iced his band and invited the Preservation Hall's trombonist Lucien Barbarin onstage. Connick unconsciously gave his knuckles a crack and started to work this blues at the bottom of the Steinway grand as if it were a funeral march. He started to sing silkily about seeing his baby on the morgue table, letting his vocals grab dirt and grit as the song progressed. When the piece was finally wide open, Barbarin stepped in with a solo filled with trombone drags, loops and tailgating. Connick was obviously feeling the music as strongly as the house. He demonstrated that the piano is also a percussion instrument by giving the song hand-slapped beats on the big black soundbox. I haven't walked Jackson Square or had a muffuletta from Central Grocery in years, but the atmosphere Connick and Barbarin achieved during this piece transported all of us to the French Quarter as the pair noodled the tune from dirge to a second-line stomp. The rest of the set was also quite fine, with highlights including a cover of Professor Longhair's "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" as well as material from the new record such as "Mona Lisa," "Besame Mucho" and a cover of The Beatles' "And I Love Her." The set was so nicely sequenced you could almost forgive Harry for the schlock 'n' roll cover of the Carpenters' hit "(They Long To Be) Close to You." The Hiro Ballroom in Chelsea is a dark wooden hall, high ceilings lit by Japanese paper globes dangling from the rafters. Yet with Harry Connick Jr. on the wide low stage, it could have been a Tuesday night at Tipitina's in New Orleans.