The holiday season is a time of traditions. The songs and spirit of the season take us back to our childhoods, reinforce our bond with family and friends, and remind us to spread joy and help to others. Among contemporary musicians, no one has reflected these feelings with greater honesty and artistry than the Grammy-winning, multi-platinum-selling Harry Connick, Jr., who celebrates once again with “What a Night! – A Christmas Album,” available online and in stores on November 4 from Columbia Records.
Connick is one of the few contemporary artists who have created his own holiday traditions. Beginning with “When My Heart Finds Christmas,” his triple-platinum seasonal album of 1993, through “Harry for the Holidays,” his chart-topping sequel from 2003 that included “The Happy Elf” (the inspiration for a new family musical), he has brought vitality, sincerity and unmatched musicality to the celebration. “What a Night! – A Christmas Album” was created in the same spirit, with new takes on old favorites as well as four of Connick’s own compositions.
As always, Connick’s approach to seasonal classics is fresh and infectious. With the support of his stellar big band, he makes “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” and “Jingle Bells” swing. Recalling his hometown New Orleans (“A great place to celebrate,” he notes, “but with the temperature at 60 degrees or higher, we didn’t have many white Christmases”), he gives “We Three Kings” a funk beat, turns playful on “Zat You Santa Claus?” and offers a bluesy “Please Come Home for Christmas.” From the finger-snapping groove of “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” and the majestic orchestral setting of “O Come All Ye Faithful” to an instrumental arrangement of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies,” Connick finds new ways to bring forth the spirit and meaning of these classic songs.
New music is also central to the celebration. “This is a very traditional CD in the way it sounds,” Connick explains, “but what is not traditional is the inclusion of four new songs.” Among them are the ballad “Christmas Day,” the rollicking “Santarrific” featuring the voice and trombone of longtime colleague Lucien Barbarin, and the inspirational “Song for the Hopeful,” a duet with gospel singer Kim Burrell featured in the Lifetime film “Living Proof,” in which Connick stars as the doctor who developed the life-saving treatment for breast cancer. “Kim is one of the smartest musicians I’ve ever worked with, and one of the greatest voices of all time,” says Connick. “Any chance I get to sing with her is a treat.” Burrell is also featured on “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” which Connick cites as “some of the best work she’s ever done.”
If one theme underscores the entire collection, it is the joy of celebrating with family. “Any parent knows that life is infinitely greater with children,” Connick explains. “Christmas was great when I was a child, but nothing to compare with the Christmases I now have with my family.” He makes the point explicit in the title track, which captures the excitement of Christmas Eve anticipation, and in a duet with his middle daughter Kate, who Connick calls “my most special guest,” on “Winter Wonderland.” “We recorded shortly before Kate’s eleventh birthday,” the proud father recalls. “It brought back some nice memories, because I was about Kate’s age when I did my first recording.”
HARRY CONNICK, JR. has amassed a remarkable resume of achievements since his first Columbia album in 1987, including more than 25 million albums sold, prestigious nominations in the areas of recording, theater, television and film, and a countless string of dynamic live performances. “What a Night! – A Christmas Album” is his first full-length release since his 2007 big band tribute to New Orleans, “Oh, MY NOLA,” which debuted at #1 on the Billboard jazz chart and #11 on the Billboard 200. Connick will make a number of television appearances in support of “What a Night! – A Christmas Album,” including the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.
Harry Connick Jr will be performing holiday shows this November and December in select cities in support of the album. Tour dates listed below, check local venues for ticket information.
November 18 Palace Theater Louisville, KY
November 19 Taft Theater Cincinnati, OH
November 20 Ohio Theater Columbus, OH
November 21 Clay Center Charleston, WV
November 22 The State Theater Cleveland, OH
November 28 City Center New York
November 29 City Center New York
December 4 NJPAC Prudential Hall Newark, NJ
December 5 The Borgata Atlantic City, NJ
December 7 Fox Theater St. Louis, MO
December 9 Orpheum Minneapolis, MN
December 10 Chicago Theater Chicago, IL
December 11 Chicago Theater Chicago, IL
December 12 Milwaukee Theater Milwaukee, WI
December 14 Ryman Auditorium Nashville, TN
December 16 Cobb Energy PAC Atlanta, GA
December 17 Durham PAC Durham, NC
December 19 Colonial Theater Boston, MA
December 20 Colonial Theater Boston, MA