Harry Connick, Jr. – Live @ The Tanglewood Jazz Festival
After a reminiscent introduction by Festival founder and local Jazz legend Fred Taylor, Mr. Connick the Younger prepared to finish up his “Only You” tour with one last party. Unfortunately, it took some time to get it going. After an extended period of one-fingered fiddling with his piano, Harry led his trio and then the large and looming orchestra into a a booming rendition of “People Will Say Were in Love.” When the vocals finally revealed where Harry had been heading all this time, they were cracked and road-worn, especially when he tried to emphasize or get the crowd going with random lyric shouts.
Ironically, he would later reveal his “pre-show ritual” in which he and trombonist Lucien Barbarin each eat Hall’s cough drops in an effort to stave off the tortures of touring. Though “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans” was a bit rushed (especially considering its source material) and “Smile” a bit crooked and cracked, Harry was eventually able to settle into a gentler, firmer groove. Among the resultant high points were a colorful trio rendition of “All of Me,” an appropriately dirgy stroll through “St. James Infirmary,” and an even more lamenting Gospel sway through “Old Rugged Cross.” The show stealer, however, was when Mr. Connick, SR. surprised his son with a chorus of “Up a Lazy River.” The resultant ovation caught even “June” (as in “Junior”) off guard, but he relished in the opportunity to thank his father for all they had done together while actually doing more of it.
Catching his breath in a plodding “For Once in My Life,” Connick wound up the night by asking his adoring fans to “Save the Last Dance for Me” before swinging them out into the cool, clear Berkshire night with a New Orleans romp on “Come by Me.” Though uneven and at times meandering, Connick did not fail to please the Festival crowd. And, to hear Taylor tell it, he has come a long way indeed!
© 2004, M. S. Robinson, ARR