Harry Connick, Jr. | 07.28.15

qh_kensrueLong before Michael Bublé or Josh Groban, Connick amazed audiences of all ages with his crooner/big band sound.

 

 

 

If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing New Orleans music and culture in its colorful grandeur, you need nothing more than to spend an evening with Harry Connick, Jr. and his talented band of characters. From contemporary jazz to classic jazz, New Orleans funk to gospel, Connick’s show dabbles in just about every genre imaginable.

Long before Michael Bublé or Josh Groban, Connick amazed audiences of all ages with his crooner/big band sound. His ability to cross genres from New Orleans jazz to mainstream pop and back again have led him all across the globe, but for audiences, it’s not just the music but also the unscripted banter and comradery that can only come from Connick himself. If you’ve ever seen him in concert, you’ll know Connick is a hard-hitter with a quick wit that has rarely been matched. He’s shut down hecklers, called out latecomers, and cracked jokes at the expense of unsuspecting audience members. Sunday night was no exception. When he noticed four seats in the front row were left vacant, he jokingly threw out an offer to the balcony crowd to come down. Roughly 20 minutes later, during one of Connick’s stories, a woman appeared right in front of him on her way to the front row. He shook her hand and asked her if she had anyone with her who would want to join her. He then stopped the show and paged them over his microphone, and then moments later, sarcastically exclaimed in an entertaining fashion, “We’re waiting on you. Will you hurry the hell up?”

Some of the most notable characters in his gang included St. Louis native Neal Caine on bass, Jonathan Dubose, Jr., on vocals and bass guitar, and the infamous Lucien Barbarin on trombone and drums. At times this wonderfully talented cast of characters seemed to outshine Connick with their performances, while he sat back and let them steal the show. The number of solos and the amount of recognition he repeatedly allotted them really showcased their talents and allowed the audience to get to know the entire band as equal parts of the show. So many times when you go see a performer, the band becomes just another part of the background and the audience spends the night listening to the lead singer in a vacuum of sorts. Not here.

As a mark of true quality, Connick stuck to more heavy-hitting classic soulful tunes like “One More Time,” “How Come You Do Me Like You Do,” and “How Great Thou Art, ” as opposed to some of his more mainstream pop-inspired hits of the past. Halfway through the show, the audience was treated to an electrifying performance by Dubose, who sang “Jesus on the Mainline.” Connick also gave the audience a treat by performing three tracks from his unreleased album due out in October: “Trying to Matter,” “No One Does I Do Like We Do,” and “I Like the Way You Smile.” | Jennifer Manjarez

 

 

 

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