Friday, December 19, 2008

Harry Connick Jr Concert

We had a great time with Neil and Kimsu at the new Durham Performing Arts Center Wednesday night, taking in a Harry Connick, Jr. holiday show.

It was more than just a holiday show, however, as Connick's two hour-straight performance turned in several classic New Orleans blues, such as Beale Street Blues and St James Infirmary.

As a special bonus, his good friend Branford Marsalis joined him on stage for a couple of tunes. Marsalis is not part of the tour, but since he lives in the Durham area, he was a welcomed and easy addition to a great show!

Here left to right are Connick at the piano, Lucien Barbarin on the trombone, Mark Braud on the trumpet, and Marsalis on the Soprano Sax.

Here are some random things I enjoyed about the concert:

1) the venue. The new "DPAC," as it's called is elegant and state of the art. It seats 2,800 (most or all of which were full) and sounds and looks outstanding.
2) the band. By this I mean the horn players, in addition to a couple of excellent soloists, the horn section was tight, confident, and in perfect sync. There were three trumpet players, three trombone players (including an excellent bass trombone player) and three saxes (tenor, alto/tenor, bari). This was scaled down from the normal big band of 4/4/5. I imagine Connick had to do some revoicing and rearranging to make all that work.
3) the rhythm section was outstanding as well. The bass player in particular was spot on with time and intonation. He and the drummer worked so well to create deep, deep pockets.
4) the intonation. Trumpets in octaves, the band harmonies, and balance were perfect.
5) great time. Everyone knew where the pulse was. Even when Connick intentionally played so far behind the beat on some of those blues tunes. It never slowed. Just a perfect feel.
6) great improvisational solos. No one played a bad solo. Connick's playing is so tasty. Somewhere between his former teacher, Ellis Marsalis and Thelonious Monk--he has a strong blues influence but also plays very percussively and angularly at times.
7) great singing. Connick knows his limits vocally and stays right in his comfort zone--keeping everyone listening in their comfort zone!
8) great entertainment. Part of what made the show so enjoyable was the fact that Connick is great at talking. Plenty of humor and improvisation which was a lot of fun.

If you ever have a chance to see Connick, do it. You won't regret it!