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Faceted Harry Connick Jr., Plus a Tribute to ‘Hungarian Joe’

March 6, 2015 5:57 PM
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Faceted Harry Connick Jr., Plus a Tribute to ‘Hungarian Joe’

The media did Harry Connick (and the rest of us) a disservice when they tried to anoint him as the “new Sinatra” 25 years ago—it would have made more sense to promote Mr. Connick as the latest in the long line of New Orleans party-parade pianists like James Booker and Professor Longhair; Mr. Connick has also since proven himself a very worthy heir to Alfred Drake or John Raitt as a Broadway baritone. His recent albums, like “Smokey Mary” and “Every Man Should Know,” both comprised of original tunes, testify in tandem to his overall success as an all-purpose pop star: The first is all Mardi-Gras-style funk grooves, the second moves seamlessly from Stan Getz-inspired sambas (”I Love Her”) to bluegrass balladry (”Greatest Love Story”) to Tony Bennett -style saloon songs (”Being Alone”). But far from being a musical Zelig, Mr. Connick makes all these genres—which will hopefully all be represented in this rare New York concert appearance—work for him as driven by the force of his considerable charisma.

Joseph P. Murányi (1928-2012)—whom Louis Armstrong addressed as either “Hungarian Joe” or sometimes “Joe Ma Rainey”—made a dual contribution to jazz as both a historian and a clarinetist. He was an essential part of the Classic Jazz Quartet (with his fellow funsters Richard Sudhalter, Dick Wellstood...

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