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16 Christmas Discs for the 2011 Holidays
Publication: Audiophile Audition
Author: John Henry
Date: November 16, 2011
Harry Connick, Jr. Trio – The Happy Elf – Marsalis Music *****
(Harry Connick, Jr. – piano; Neal Caine – bass; Arthur Latin – drums)
Arriving just in the nick of time to get included herewith, this becomes a new holiday classic due mainly from it being entirely new tunes, with no hackneyed , artificially jazzed-up arrangements of familiar carols. It’s also a CD for holiday get-togethers that include young ones, because it opens with a ten-minute narration by Harry of his story of The Happy Elf. It’s a companion CD to Harry’s children’s picture book of the same name, published by Harper Collins. Employing two mainstays from his big band, Connick does trio versions of some of the tunes he originally wrote for his stage musical The Happy Elf. They constitute a variety of new takes on the tunes, and I especially liked that they’re all instrumental—no vocals. The children’s story follows Eubie, who longs to be a part of Santa’s sleigh team, but he’s stuck with compiling the naughty-or-nice lists. But then one Christmas Eve he sees that the whole town of Bluesville has not a single person having been nice, and he’s off to Bluesville to turn a whole town of naughty children nice in a day. Eubie’s story unfolds against a swinging background of the piano trio. The story has also inspired an animated Christmas TV special. A merry addition to the mostly Christmas dreck. Recorded at the studios of WGBH in Cambridge, where I once worked.