Judge Clark Douglas is a singer and an actor. He's pretty bad at both, but still...
"Man, this is cool."
In mid-2010, crooner Harry Connick, Jr. and his Big Band and Orchestra launched a sold-out run at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway in New York City. On July 30th and 31st, the performances were filmed for a television presentation on PBS. Now that presentation has been expanded by 26 minutes and is being offered on DVD as Harry Connick, Jr. in Concert on Broadway.
Though I enjoy Connick's easy-going performance style, early on I feared the concert would prove a little dull. Connick kicks off the performance with pleasant but unimaginative performances of "We Are in Love" and "The Way You Look Tonight." Thankfully, these are just a warm-up. Connick spices things up by sitting down at the piano and providing a rambling, inventive jazz instrumental version of "Besame Mucho" before finally getting around to singing an equally fresh take on the song. This is followed by the lovely "The Other Hours," a song from Connick's failed musical Thou Shalt Not (though Connick still managed to garner a Tony nomination for his score).
After crooning his way through "Nowhere with Love," "How Insensitive" and "Come By Me," Connick pays homage to another Broadway show by performing both "My Time of Day," and "I've Never Been in Love Before" from Guys and Dolls, followed by a strong performance of "All the Way" (which Connick dubs, "one of the great love songs").
Act II kicks off with another dazzling piano performance, as Connick glides effortlessly through the catchy "Bayou Maharajah." The New Orleans tone of the piece informs much of the concert's flavorful second half, starting with the upbeat "Hear Me in the Harmony" (which has a distinctive old-school R&B sound that stands out in the occasionally same-ish mix of material). Surprisingly and delightfully, Connick carries this theme through all the way to the finish line with a blend of old and new New Orleans tunes: "Light the Way," "Tug Boat," "St. James Infirmary Blues," "Take Her to the Mardi Gras," "How Come You Do Me Like You Do?," "Oh, Didn't He Ramble," "Bourbon Street Parade," and "Mardi Gras in New Orleans."
The DVD release looks solid, though the concert was shot in hi-def and undoubtedly sparkles even more on Blu-ray. The level of detail is solid throughout and blacks are nice and deep (which is important given that the concert's palette is darker than most I've seen). The camera remains focused on the sweaty, slightly scruffy Connick most of the time, but stays busy and provides us with plenty of looks at his large ensemble. Of course audio is the most important element of any concert disc, and the surround track we're provided with is mostly excellent. There are a couple of occasions where the mix is just a bit muddy, but for the most part this is a stellar live recording. There's a nice balance between Connick's smooth vocals and the big band, too. The only supplement on the disc is a 27-minute interview with Connick.
While Harry Connick, Jr. in Concert on Broadway only manages to dazzle on a few fleeting occasions, it's solid fun almost all the way through. The more traditional first half is decent enough, but the New Orleans theme of the longer second set is the stuff that seals the deal. Fans of the singer won't be disappointed.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Columbia Records
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