Conceived and executed well before Hurricane Katrina, Chanson Du Vieux Carr features Connick and his seventeenpiece band primarily in an instrumental setting, with two vocal tracks by band members Leroy Jones on 'Bourbon Street Parade' and Lucien Barbarin on 'Lucious.' A portion of the proceeds will benefit New Orleans Habitat Musicians' Village, the project conceived by Connick and Marsalis Music founder Branford Marsalis to provide affordable housing in the city's Upper Ninth Ward for displaced musicians and other needy families. Includes: 'Someday You'll Be Sorry,' 'Panama,' 'Ash Wednesday' and more.
As a Sinatra-molded swinger, Harry Connick, Jr. may have had some of his thunder stolen by young star Michael Buble. But with his raved-about performance on Broadway in Pajama Game
and his continuing development as a jazz pianist, he's doing quite nicely, thank you. Chanson du Vieux Carre
is one of two new simultaneously released big band tributes to his hometown of New Orleans by him. Released on Marsalis Music, it is a largely instrumental big band session divided between originals and classics that shows off his writing and arranging skills while featuring his longtime trumpeter Leroy Jones and trombonist Lucien Barbarin on incidental vocals. (Connick is in full vocal mode on Oh, My Nola
, released by his longtime "A" label, Columbia.) Though his surprisingly few turns at the piano are mostly Basie-like in their edgy economy, his coloristic, sectional approach on tunes such as his own "Luscious" and Hoagy Carmichael's "New Orleans" evokes Duke Ellington. Named for the storied old section of the French Quarter, the album takes a few songs to get going, but once it does, it has plenty of spark and swagger--and heart. The ghostlike background voicings on Sidney Bechet's "Petite Fleur" seem to embody spirits of New Orleans past while it's always great to hear Connick honor his onetime mentor, Professor Longhair, on Longhair's bumptious "Mardis Gras in New Orleans." --Lloyd Sachs