Harry Connick, Jr.

What a Night! A Christmas Album

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Review

His third holiday-themed album, 2008's What a Night! A Christmas Album continues vocalist/pianist Harry Connick, Jr.'s tradition of delivering swinging jazz and pop versions of various tinsel tunes new and old. Recorded with a big band and orchestra, this is a terrific collection of songs making the most of Connick's knack for modern-day crooning and rambunctious small-group jazz. There is warmth, sophistication, and urbane romanticism to Connick's work here that should draw well-earned comparisons to similar classic albums by the likes of Tony Bennett, Mel Tormé, Nat King Cole, and others. However, rather than sounding like a retro affair, What a Night! delivers on Connick's promise of updating the traditional pop sound of his idols for a contemporary audience. It doesn't hurt, either, that Connick is joined here by a bevy of first-rate musicians, including vocalist Kim Burrell and trombonist/vocalist Lucien Barbarin on two duets, not to mention the stellar backing musicians. Even Kate Connick, Harry's daughter, makes an appearance for a charming duet with her dad on "Winter Wonderland." It's also refreshing to hear a few rambling small-group jazz numbers like "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies," which help remind listeners how nimble and inventive a jazz pianist Connick truly is. More than just a great Christmas album, What a Night! is the type of record you just might find yourself turning to well into the new year. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi