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Connick, Harry Jr.

Harry Connick, Jr.

Singer, pianist

Showman, Yet Serious Musician

Signed with Columbia

Budding Actor

Selected discography

Sources

Jazz pianist and singer Harry Connick, Jr. stepped onto the scene at the age of 22 with a young voice and vintage pop sound. The New Orleans-born Connick has been compared to such stars of the golden era of American pop standards as Duke Ellington, Tony Bennett, and Frank Sinatra. But while his piano virtuosity is unquestioned, and his youth was once so obvious, Connick has proven that he has staying power with many popular and critically acclaimed records. He has caused some controversy by relying on a repertoire of great sounds from the past to make his musical statement, but he has been received by many jazz fans as a breath of fresh air and by fans the world over as a dreamboat with a Sinatra-esque voice.

While some jazz sophisticates were taking a cool, wait-and-see attitude toward Connicks upstart, those music lovers lucky enough to get a ticket to one of Connicks performances got something a little unexpectedan evening of genuine, old-time saloon jazz with a Bourbon Street accent. At first blush, wrote Newsweek s Cathleen McGuigan, [Connick] looks too fresh-faced to have done so much growing up in saloons. But when he starts to sing, he assumes a grown-up golden glow. With his fast fingers and slow drawl, his slicked-back hair and laid-back glamour, the New Orleans pianist has been astonishing Yankee audiences with a jazz virtuosity far beyond his years.

Right down to his snakeskin shoes, Connick is a polished showman. He has even joked that he has a more extensive wardrobe than his ex-model wife. He jokes, trades places with his drummer or bassist, does imitations, taps on his piano, and occasionally performs an impromptu soft-shoe on stage. Again, this is against the grain of modern jazz standards, which tend to call for a more sedate, laid-back style of performing. What ever happened to a show, man? Connick asked Rolling Stone s Rob Tannenbaum. You go to hear Louis Armstrong, and they were jitterbugging. Armstrong was a bigger goof-off than I am on-stage. Its so staid now..

Showman, Yet Serious Musician

And behind this obvious glamour, which has won him a handful of film roles and promises still more, Connick is a very serious musician. In fact, his musical upbringing reads like a pure jazz pedigree. His parents, both music lovers, put themselves through law school by running a record store in New Orleans, where Connicks late mother eventually became a judge. Connick was a piano prodigy who started playing the family piano at age three. By the time he was five he was accomplished enough to play The Star Spangled Banner at his fathers inauguration as the New Orleans district attorney.

It was his fathers position as D.A. that got young Harry into many of the smokey saloons of Bourbon Street on

For the Record

Born Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, Jr. on September 11, 1967, in New Orleans, LA; son of Harry, Sr. (a New Orleans district attorney) and Anita Connick (deceased); married Jill Goodacre (actor and former Victorias Secret model), April 16, 1994; children: Georgia Tatom, Sara Kate. Education: Attended New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and Manhattan School of Music.

Began playing with professional musicians on Bourbon Street, New Orleans, age six; studied under jazz pianist James Booker as a teen; studied under Ellis Marsalis at New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts; moved to New York, studied briefly at Manhattan School of Music, age 18; performed at clubs and churches in New York City; signed recording contract with Columbia Records, 1986; performed music for film When Harry Met Sally, 1989; released the multiplatinum-selling and Grammy Award-winning album We Are in Love, 1990; other multiplatinum-selling releases include Blue Light, Red Light, 1991, and When My Heart Finds Christmas, 1993; released She, 1994, To See You, 1997, Come By Me, 1999, as welll as 30 and the Grammy Award-winning Songs I Heard, 2001; actor in films Memphis Belle, 1990, Copycat, 1995, and Hope Floats, 1998.

Awards: Grammy Awards, Best Jazz Vocal Performance for When Harry Met Sally, 1989; Best Jazz Vocal Performance for We Are in Love, 1990; Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Songs I Heard, 2002.

Addresses: Record company Columbia Records, P.O. Box 4450, New York, NY 10101-4450. Management Wilkins Management Inc., 323 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139. Website Harry Connick, Jr. Official Website: http://www.harryconnickjr.com.

weekends, where he learned to love the sounds of Dixieland, bebop, and rhythm and blues in their natural element. Many of the performers, including the legendary ragtime pianist Eubie Blake, even invited the boy wonder onstage. Eubie was ninety-six at the time, and I was nine, Connick explained to Howard Reich in the Chicago Tribune. To be able to play with a man who was born in 1883. My LordI still can hardly believe I touched him. Another strong influence was the talented pianist James Booker. Many believed that Booker was bound for greatness himself, but drugs destroyed his talent and Booker eventually died in 1983. Booker became so fond of Connick that he often came around the house to tutor the boy. Booker was the only genius I ever met, Connick told Rolling Stone, but hed play a tune and throw up in the middle of the song. I didnt know what was wrong. I wasnt thinking about dope when I was eight.

But Connicks most complete musical education came at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. There he was taught by Ellis Marsalis, a now-legendary jazz instructor who is also the father of current jazz stars Branford and Wynton Marsalis. By the time Connick was in high school, Wynton Marsalis had already become a star with his horn, and Connick idolized him. I wanted to be Wynton, Connick told Time. I wanted to be in his band. I dressed like him. I talked like him. Marsalis, too, made his mark by playing the music of the past and has also been roundly criticized for it. But Connick feels that a tip of the hat to the great masters is essential for young musicians. Its a shame they criticize people like Wynton and me for going back, because all were trying to do is develop our own style, and the only way you can do that is by understanding the music of your predecessors, he told the Chicago Tribune.

Connicks dream was to follow the footsteps of his friend Marsalis to stardom, and the sooner the better. He went to New York at the age of 18, telling his father that he wanted to study at the Manhattan School of Music. His real aim, however, was to sign a record deal with Marsalis label, Columbia. After a couple of courses at the music school, Connick dropped out and began playing at churches, on street corners, and at small jazz clubs, anywhere he could play. Im a New Orleans performer, Connick told the Chicago Tribune, and that means youll do just about anything anywhere for the chance to perform, even if you have to tap dance out on the street. I simply have to perform all the time.

Signed with Columbia

Eventually, the talent scouts at Columbia did take notice, and Connicks first major-label album, a self-titled jazz collection, was followed by a second record titled 20 for Connicks age at the time. This second record featured Connicks Sinatra-style vocals, which he refers to as swing. Connicks third collection was the immensely successful soundtrack to the 1989 hit film When Harry Met Sally , which featured Connick on vocals, solo piano, and performing with a big band.

Despite his early success, Connick had no illusions about either the reasons for it or his place among the jazz elite. Referring to his record deal with Columbia, about which he expressed some guilt due to the lack of attention some of his friends in the industry have gotten, Connick knows that part of his appeal is his novelty. I sing, and Im young, and I wear baggy suits, and I play jazz, and Im white, he told Rolling Stones Tannenbaum during his early career. The sounds that come out of me shouldnt be coming out of someone so young. Thats why I got signed. And when jazz critics begin to point out that Connicks playing is derivative of such legends as Ellington, Thelonius Monk, and Erroll Garner, Connick is quick to agree. Shoot man, Im twenty-one years old. Of course, I dont have a style.

Following the explosive beginning to his career, Connick spent the next ten years creating hit great records. Loftys Roach Souffle, an all-instrumental album, started the decade. In 1991, Blue Light, Red Light became a successful big band album with the music written and orchestrated by Connick. In 1992, Connick simultaneously released both 25 a jazz and pop standards album played on solo pianoand 11, a collection of Connick singing the classics at age 11, with an ensemble of New Orleans jazz masters.

Connick released his wildy successful Christmas album, When My Heart Finds Christmas in 1993, and in 1994, he started his exploration of New Orleans funk with She. Star Turtlewas released in 1996 and failed to connect to an audience. In 1997, Connick embarked on a world tour with the release of To See You, a release of all-original love songs. The album features both a jazz quartet and 65-piece orchestra. On it Connick wrote all the songs, played piano, sang lead vocals, arranged every track and conducted the musicians. according to Peoples Marisa Sandora. 1999 and 2000 ushered in two big band releases, Come By Me and Songs I Heard, the latter a disc of Hollywood film and showtunes. On Come By Me, Connick reunited his 16-piece big band plus a full orchestra, filling out well his own orchestrations and arrangements. Closing the decade, Connick released 30 in 2001. Connick was now a musician, singer, conductor, composer, and writer with over ten years of popularity and critical acclaim under his belt and hardly the green musician critics were criticizing in 1990.

Budding Actor

Not only was Connick making splashes on the music scene, but he was moving into other fields as well. He made his acting debut in Memphis Belle in 1990, and later got a part in Little Man Tate. In 1995, Connick costarred with Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver as a chilling serial killer in Copycat. In 1998, Connick landed a lead roll beside Sandra Bullock in the romantic comedy Hope Floats. He also appeared in the block-buster Independence Day, and landed voice work in both My Dog Skip and The Iron Giant. And, as if that werent enough, he appeared on Broadway, provided music for Thou Shalt Not a Broadway musicaland guested on the television sitcom Cheers. He also sang Godfather Ills Promise Me Youll Remember, and received both a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for it. Connick filmed Basic with Hollywood heavy-weights John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in 2002.

Connick has come full-circle since his arrival on the music scene during the 1980s. He has earned three multiplatinum albumsLoftys Roach Souffle, Blue Light, Red Light, and When My Heart Finds Christmas. And when an albumusually instrumentaldoesnt garner sales, it still causes waves in the jazz community and is smiled upon by jazz connoisseurs. Connick is known throughout the music community, and Hollywood, as a promising talent with credentials to prove it.

Selected discography

Harry Connick, Jr., Columbia, 1987.

20, CBS, 1987.

When Harry Met Sally (soundtrack), Columbia, 1989.

We Are in Love, Columbia, 1990.

Loftys Roach Souffle, Columbia, 1990.

Blue Light, Red Light, Columbia, 1991.

25, Columbia, 1992.

11, Columbia, 1992.

When My Heart Finds Christmas, Columbia, 1993.

She, Columbia, 1994.

Star Turtle, Columbia, 1996.

To See You, Columbia, 1997.

Come By Me, Columbia, 1999.

Songs I Heard (covers), Columbia, 2001.

30, Columbia, 2001.

Sources

Books

The Complete Marquis Whos Who, Marquis Whos Who, 2001.

Newsmakers 1991, Issue Cumulation, Gale Research, 1991.

Periodicals

Billboard, October 26, 1991; May 4, 1996.

Chicago Tribune, January 14, 1990.

Newsweek, February 20, 1989.

New York, January 2, 1989.

People, October 27, 1997; December 22, 1997; June 1, 1998.

Rolling Stone, March 23, 1989.

Time, January 15, 1990.

Online

All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (March 21, 2002).

Columbia Records, http://www.columbiarecords.com/artists/ (March 29, 2002).

Grammy.com, http://www.grammy.com (March 21, 2002).

VH1.com, http://artists.vh1.com/artists/ (February 5, 2002).

David Collins

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Connick, Harry Jr.

Harry Connick, Jr.

Jazz pianist and singer

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

If jazz pianist and singer Harry Connick, Jr., has a problem, it is that he is too young, too good, and his music is too old. The New Orleans-born Connick, who has literally burst onto the American jazz scene at the age of twenty-two, has been compared to such stars of the golden era of American standards as Duke Ellington, Tony Bennett, and Frank Sinatra. But while his piano virtuosity is unquestioned, and his youth is obvious, Connick has caused some controversy by relying on a repertoire of great sounds from the past to make his musical statement. He is a throwback to another era, and yet that time is so long gone that Connick has been received by many jazz fans as a breath of fresh air.

And while some jazz sophisticates take a cool, wait-and-see attitude toward this upstart, those music lovers lucky enough to get a ticket to one of Connicks performances get something a little unexpectedan evening of genuine, old-time saloon jazz with a Bourbon Street accent. At first blush, writes Newsweeks Cathleen McGuigan, [Connick] looks too fresh-faced to have done so much growing up in saloons. But when he starts to sing, he assumes a grown-up golden glow. With his fast fingers and slow drawl, his slicked-back hair and laid-back glamour, the New Orleans pianist has been astonishing Yankee audiences with a jazz virtuosity far beyond his years.

Right down to his snakeskin shoes, Connick is already a polished showman. Tall, smooth, and handsome in his baggy suits and pomade hairstyle, he jokes, trades places with his drummer or bassist, does imitations, taps on his piano and occasionally performs an impromptu soft-shoe. Again, this is against the grain of modern jazz standards, which tend to call for a more sedate, laid-back style of performing. What ever happened to a show, man? Connick asked Rolling Stones Rob Tannenbaum. You go to hear Louis Armstrong, and they were jitterbugging. Armstrong was a bigger goof-off than I am onstage. Its so staid now.

And behind this obvious glamour, which has already won him a film role and promises of still more, Connick is a very serious musician. In fact, his musical upbringing reads like a pure jazz pedigree. His parents, both music lovers, put themselves through law school by running a record store in New Orleans, where Connicks late mother eventually became a judge. Connick was a piano prodigy who started playing the family piano at age three. By the time he was five he was accomplished enough to play The Star Spangled Banner at his fathers inauguration as the New Orleans district attorney.

It was his fathers position as D.A. that got young Harry into many of the smokey saloons of Bourbon Street on weekends, where he learned to love the sounds of

For the Record

Born Harry Connick, Jr., in 1967, in New Orleans, La.; son of Harry, Sr. (a New Orleans district attorney), and Anita Connick (deceased). Education: Attended New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and Manhattan School of Music.

Began playing with professional musicians on Bourbon Street, New Orleans, at age 6; studied under jazz pianist James Booker as a teen; studied under Ellis Marsalis at New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts; moved to New York at age 18 and studied briefly at Manhattan School of Music; performed at clubs and churches in N.Y.C.; signed recording contract with Columbia Records, 1986; performed music for film When Harry Met Sally, 1989; actor in film Memphis Belle, 1990.

Addresses: Home New York City. Record company Columbia Records, Inc., 51 W. 52nd St., New York, NY 10019.

Dixieland, bebop, and rhythm and blues in their natural element. Many of the performers, including the legendary ragtime pianist Eubie Blake, even invited the boy wonder onstage. Eubie was ninety-six at the time, and I was nine, Connick explained to Howard Reich in the Chicago Tribune. To be able to play with a man who was born in 1883. My LordI still can hardly believe I touched him. Another strong influence was the talented pianist James Booker. Many believed that Booker was bound for greatness himself, but drugs destroyed his talent and Booker eventually died in 1983. Booker became so fond of Connick that he often came around the house to tutor the boy. Booker was the only genius I ever met, Connick told Rolling Stone. But hed play a tune and throw up in the middle of the song. I didnt know what was wrong. I wasnt thinking about dope when I was eight.

But Connicks most complete musical education came at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. There he was taught by Ellis Marsalis, a now-legendary jazz instructor who, more importantly, is also the father of current jazz stars Branford and Wynton Marsalis. By the time Connick was in high school, Wynton Marsalis had already become a star with his horn, and Connick idolized him. I wanted to be Wynton, Connick told Time. I wanted to be in his band. I dressed like him. I talked like him. Marsalis, too, made his mark by playing the music of the past and has also been roundly criticized for it. But Connick feels that a tip of the hat to the great masters is essential for young musicians. Its a shame they criticize people like Wynton and me for going back, because all were trying to do is develop our own style, and the only way you can do that is by understanding the music of your predecessors, he told the Chicago Tribune. Everyone imitates when they start out. Im not forty, Im twenty-two.

Connicks dream was to follow the footsteps of his friend Marsalis to stardom, and the sooner the better. He went to New York at the age of eighteen, telling his father that he wanted to study at the Manhattan School of Music. His real aim, however, was to sign a record deal with Marsalis label, Columbia. After a couple of courses at the music school, Connick dropped out and began playing at churches, on street corners, and at small jazz clubs, anywhere he could play. Im a New Orleans performer, Connick told the Chicago Tribune, and that means youll do just about anything anywhere for the chance to perform, even if you have to tap dance out on the street. I simply have to perform all the time.

Eventually, the talent scouts at Columbia did take notice, and Connicks first major-label album, a self-titled jazz collection, was followed by a second record titled 20 for Connicks age at the time. This second record featured Connicks Sinatra-style vocals, which he refers to as swing. Connicks third collection was the immensely successful soundtrack to the 1989 hit film When Harry Met Sally, which featured Connick on vocals, solo piano, and performing with a big band.

Despite his early success, Connick has no illusions about either the reasons for it or his place among the jazz elite. Referring to his record deal with Columbia, about which he expresses some guilt due to the lack of attention some of his friends in the industry have been getting, Connick knows that part of his appeal is his novelty. I sing, and Im young, and I wear baggy suits, and I play jazz, and Im white, he told Rolling Stones Tannenbaum. The sounds that come out of me shouldnt be coming out of someone so young. Thats why I got signed. And when jazz critics begin to point out that Connicks playing is derivative of such legends as Ellington, Thelonius Monk, and Erroll Garner, Connick is quick to agree. Shoot man, Im twenty-one years old. Of course, I dont have a style. But hes got plenty of time.

Selected discography

Harry Connick, Jr., Columbia, 1987. 20, CBS, 1987.

When Harry Met Sally (film soundtrack), Columbia, 1989.

We Are in Love (includes A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and Its All Right with Me), Columbia, 1990.

Loftys Roach Souffle, Columbia, 1990.

Sources

Chicago Tribune, January 14, 1990.

New York, January 2, 1989.

Newsweek, February 20, 1989.

Rolling Stone, March 23, 1989.

Time, January 15, 1990.

David Collins

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Connick, Harry Jr.

HARRY CONNICK JR.


Born: New Orleans, Louisiana, 11 September 1967

Genre: Jazz, Vocal

Best-selling album since 1990: Music from the Motion Picture When Harry Met Sally . . . (1989)

Hit songs since 1990: "(I Could Only) Whisper Your Name," "A Wink and a Smile"


Jazz pianist, singer, and actor Harry Connick Jr. emerged from the music scene in New Orleans at the tender age of twenty-two with the voice and physical presence of a jazz singer from a bygone era. With more than a dozen records to his name since his debut in 1987, Connick has become one of the more acclaimed jazz singers and performers of the 1990s. He has released four multiplatinum albums, three platinum albums, and three gold albums. Connick has been awarded two Grammy Awards and has garnered both an Academy Award nomination and Golden Globe nomination for his film roles. Although he initially seemed like just a throwback to the jazz crooner days of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack with his love of swing, dreamboat looks, and Sinatra-like voice, Connick has expanded his repertoire to include funk rock, a highly successful Christmas album, and a Tony Award nomination for a Broadway score.


A Prodigy in the Making

Connick puts on a polished, energetic, and entertaining live performance. He is a virtuoso who often trades instruments with his band members, jokes with them, and eggs them on midsong, like an old-school jazz singer. His parents, both music lovers, put themselves through law school by running a record shop in New Orleans. Connick began to learn piano at the young age of three; by the time he turned five he was skilled enough to play "The Star-Spangled Banner" at his father's inauguration as New Orleans district attorney. When he was young, he was able to get into the many clubs and saloons on the legendary Bourbon Street, and he often slipped into situations where he could play. Early on he built a reputation as a prodigy and even got the opportunity to study at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts with accomplished pianist Ellis Marsalis, father of well-respected jazz musicians Wynton and Branford Marsalis.

Spot Light: Music from the Motion Picture When Harry Met Sally . . .

When director Rob Reiner asked Harry Connick Jr. to reinterpret a handful of jazz standards to accompany his romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally . . . (1989), nobody knew that the film would become a monster hit, both launching actress Meg Ryan's career and earning Connick a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. From the trill of the woodwinds and the first blast of trumpet on the lead-off tune "It Had to Be You" to his frenzied take on "Stompin' at the Savoy," Connick tapped into America's dormant love of jazz. When Harry Met Sally . . . made Connick synonymous with big-band jazz standards and with a vocal style that at times is eerily reminiscent of Frank Sinatra. Connick handled each classic standard with panache and his distinct melodic style.


On his 1987 self-titled, debut album, Connick features a jazz trio with Ron Carter on bass. He released another album, 20 (1998), which introduced the world to his voice. It was the inclusion of his music in the film When Harry Met Sally . . . (1989) that put him on the musical map. Director Rob Reiner asked Connick to contribute to the score, and the big-band recording of old classics was a platinum-selling success that turned him into a household name. He followed up the soundtrack with the simultaneous release of two albums, the instrumental Lofty's Roach Souffle (1990) and the jazz-influenced We Are in Love. The former has sold more than 2 million copies and is replete with ballads such as the tale of slow heartbreak, "Drifting," and upbeat, swinging tunes like "Recipe for Love," which prove he could indeed write his own material. Interspersed between his own material are covers worth noting: a double-time version of Cole Porter's "It's All Right with Me" and a contemplative take on the standard "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square."

Style and Substance

Connick had hit his mark with audiences for his keen jazz sensibility. For all his suaveness, slick wardrobe, shiny shoes, and flashy skills in concerts, where he is known to crack jokes and tap dance midsong, Connick is indeed a serious musician. After the success of When Harry Met Sally . . . he quickly recorded a few more albums, including the jazz-ragtime-blues mélange of original compositions performed by his stable of musicians, Blue Light, Red Light (1991). One year later, 25 followed, a collection of covers of classic blues, folk, and jazz tunesfrom Duke Ellington's "Caravan" and the Hoagy Carmichael tune "Stardust" to "Muskrat Ramble"all performed on solo piano. The early 1990s were a busy time for Connick between touring and releasing a handful of albums, including a smash success Christmas album, When My Heart Finds Christmas (1993) and the funk-soul-jazz hybrid She (1994), the latter of which peaked in the Billboard Top 20. A few years later he followed with Star Turtle, an album not nearly as successful as She, and a further deviation from his jazz roots. Connick then devoted an entire album to love, To See You (1997), on which he wrote, played, and orchestrated all ten ballads. Two years later, perhaps getting an itch to return to his love of jazz, Connick went back into the studio with his big band and recorded a mix of covers and originals, Come by Me (1999).

Almost as soon as he gained fame as a singer he began to appear in films. He appeared in Memphis Belle (1990), Little Man Tate (1991), and as a serial killer in the thriller Copycat (1995). He also appeared in the blockbuster hit Independence Day (1996) and co-starred with Sandra Bullock in Hope Floats (1998). In 2002 he made his television debut as a recurring character on the popular television comedy Will & Grace.

Connick is the father of three girls and is married to ex-model Jill Goodacre. His skills as a pianist, singer, and actor showcase his depth and versatility, and his albums have done much to appeal to new audiences who did not grow up with the likes of Frank Sinatra.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Lofty's Roach Souffle (Columbia, 1990); Blue Light, Red Light (Columbia, 1991); 25 (Columbia, 1992); When My Heart Finds Christmas (Columbia 1993); She (Columbia, 1994); Star Turtle (Columbia 1996); To See You (Columbia 1997); Come by Me (Columbia, 1999); Songs I Heard (Columbia 2001); 30 (Columbia, 2001). Soundtracks: Music from the Motion Picture When Harry Met Sally . . . (Columbia, 1989).

SELECTIVE FILMOGRAPHY:

Memphis Belle (1990); Little Man Tate (1991); Copycat (1995); Independence Day (1996); Hope Floats (1998).

WEBSITE:

www.harryconnickjr.com.

carrie havranek

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