By Gary Murray

Harry Connick Jr. came on to the music scene with the soundtrack of When Harry Met Sally.  That collection of tunes set the stage for the young man to be known as a crooner in the mold of Frank Sinatra.  The New Orleans native had the look and the chops to pull off the big band sound.  His first major tour was a sold-out affair at the old Starplex Music Center on a hot summer night.  But there is much more to the man than being a singer of standards.

It has been twenty years since that introduction and Harry has become more of an icon, winning two Emmy Awards and three Grammy Awards.  He performed on Broadway in the revival of The Pajama Game and has been in an almost two dozen motion pictures.  But, his first love is performing in front of a live audience and on November 15, he was center stage at the Winspear Opera House.  It has been more than a few years since Harry took over a Dallas venue.

The stage was a series of risers and to the left were 6 strings and to the right were four horns.  The center stage was a grand piano, with an organ facing the 88 keys.  The center was a drummer and percussionist who doubled as lead trombone.  This was not the big ban set-up from his first tour or the funk set-up from his second.

Harry took the stage in all black–shirt un-tucked.   He opened the concert with the standard “With a Song in my Heart.”  His voice was still as full-throated as on his recordings.  It was full crooner mode with a solid jazz beat.

Then Harry took the tempo way down river with “New Orleans.”  His percussionist stood center stage, trombone in hand, and gave a wild sliding solo.  This is a small combo full of crack musicians and Harry Connick Jr. gives every member of the band moments in the spotlight. 

One of the highlights was the band playing “You don’t know me”.  Harry took up the trumpet and proved that he is a much better piano player than a trumpet player.  The band did a solid gospel number that turned the Opera House into a revival meeting.  Then the group turned to funk for a beat with a song from Star Turtle, the not well-received funk recording. 

Proving his still could do Sinatra, Harry crooned “The Way you look Tonight” a signature song made famous by Old Blue Eyes.  It was just what the mostly female audience yearned to hear that evening. 

There was also a trio of songs from his latest recording Every Man Should Know with a true show-stopper being the tender love song “One Fine Thing.”  On more than one occasion Harry danced across the stage.  He kept proving time and time again that he was more than just a boy-singer.  His years on Broadway have increased his entertaining skills.

The show ended with a rousing and slow rendition of “St. James Infirmary” with Harry playing both piano and bass guitar.  His trombone player and guitarist traded licks and the audience showed their love with a thunderous standing ovation.

Harry Connick Jr. delivered just the type of show that the audience wanted and expected. The show was full of seasoned musicians led by a man who at the end of the day just wants to entertain an audience.  It was a rousing success.  

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