Guilty pleasures: Harry Connick Jr. – Blue Light, Red Light (1991)

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NICK DERISO: This release came in the wake of an ambitious year that saw Connick issue both a big-band swing record and a three-piece jumping jazz record without vocals.

Not only do I not have to tell you which one sold, I don’t have to tell you which style Harry — the crown prince of the New Nostalgia — picked for the follow up.

Still, Connick tries some things here. He does all the orchestration on “Blue Light,” his most angular release yet with a larger ensemble, and one that more closely mirrored his by-then mostly hidden solo idiosyncracies. (He was smart enough to keep his old songwriting partner Ben Wolfe as well as Shannon Powell on bass and drums, respectively.)

He loosened up some, too, on the vocals.

I won’t deny that I could use more of Harry’s touseled-hair piano playing — something by then he’d obviously red lighted for the cool coiffered crooner spotlight — but there is (then and now) a certain charm about a guy with such an abiding affection for timeless music in the style of Ellington, and Gershwin and Sinatra.

It remains, for all its occasional obviousness, a beguiling sound. The truth is, Connick’s nostalgia neatly mirrors my own some days.

Those are the days I listen to this record.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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