Harry Connick, Jr. My New Orleans + UK tour dates

Harry Connick, Jr. is a highly revered and celebrated artist and entertainer. He has amassed a remarkable resume of achievements including over 20 million discs sold from his 20-album repertoire, three Grammy awards and nominations for Tony, Emmy, Oscar and Golden Globe awards. Harry Connick, Jr. is incredibly well loved in the UK. His last album released in 2004 has shipped 150,000 units to date.

"New Orleans is a city of paradox. Sin, salvation, sex, sanctification, so intertwined yet so separate. The blurred lines from the dark blue of Mardi Gras night to the periwinkle of Ash Wednesday morning" is the way Connick summarizes the gritty and grandiose, soulful and magical Crescent City, where the musical culture is second to none.

"Jazz, gospel, brass band, rhythm and blues, country, funk aren't all the styles played in New Orleans," he emphasises. "But they're the ones I wanted to play around with."

And "play around with" them he does, to brilliant effect, on 'My New Orleans', which SonyBMG is set to release in September/October 2007.

Several of the titles will bring New Orleans instantly to mind, although Harry Connick, Jr. and his associates have inevitably found ways to provide a new perspective on these old favorites. "I put a New Orleans groove on 'Jambalaya', instead of a traditional Cajun or Zydeco feeling," he says of the old Hank Williams hit, "then we move into an entirely new tempo for an entirely new groove - big-band swing."

"Careless Love," an even older warhorse, was arranged and performed spontaneously, at the end of the album's final session, with a trio of Harry Connick, Jr. on vocals and piano, Jonathan Dubose on acoustic guitar and Arthur Latin playing only bass drum and tambourine; while "Working in a Coal Mine" gained new life through Latin's imaginative overdubbing.

"Arthur worked his magic with all of his percussion toys," Connick reports, "and each part he played told a different story of each different worker in that mine." For "Somethin' You Got," Connick allowed several of the horn players in his band to take a breather and came up with what he calls "a traditional, old-school arrangement for four horns and a rhythm section."

One of Connick's original and most powerful compositions is "All These People," inspired by the suffering Connick witnessed when he visited New Orleans in the days immediately following Hurricane Katrina. "The song is all about the people who were left stranded at the Convention Center, with the verses describing what I saw as I was taken through by a kind fellow I had met on the street earlier that day named Darryl." The track features Connick in duet with the great gospel singer Kim Burrell. "I wanted somehow to represent the voices of the brave people who were abandoned there, and Kim was the perfect choice. She asked me to write an added verse, because she wanted to represent the two dead bodies that Darryl showed me when I first arrived at the Convention Center; and her improvised line 'Come see about me' at the end is my favorite part of the performance, because that's all those folks wanted, someone to come and see about them."

A portion of Connick's royalties from the sale of 'My New Orleans' will benefit the New Orleans Habitat Musicians' Village. This project, conceived by Harry Connick, Jr. and his longtime friend and colleague Branford Marsalis, will consist of single-family homes and elder-friendly duplexes as well as the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, named for the modern jazz pioneer and patriarch of the Marsalis clan who counts Harry Connick, Jr. among his legion of successful music students. Connick and Branford Marsalis serve as honorary chairs of Habitat for Humanity's hurricane relief effort, Operation Home Delivery, which began dedicating completed houses and delivery keys to needy families shortly before 'My New Orleans' was recorded.

For all of the work that remains to be done, there is a basic spirit of optimism and celebration that permeates 'My New Orleans' and that is best captured in Connick's version of "Yes We Can." "Allen Toussaint was prophetic on this one," he says of the song's legendary composer. "'Yes We Can' perfectly fits the bill of a post-Katrina New Orleans. This should be the theme song of our great city."

It also summarizes the manner in which Harry Connick, Jr. views life - with positive spirit, a focus on solutions rather than casting blame, and a humanity that knows no boundaries. It is this same spirit that makes 'My New Orleans' such an honest and affirmative experience.

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of both 'My New Orleans' and its companion disc 'Chanson du Vieux Carre', an instrumental album by Harry Connick, Jr. and his Big Band released by Marsalis Music in July and will benefit Musicians' Village.

To learn more about this wonderful community that is being built by thousands of volunteers from all over the world, please visit New Orleans Habitat Musicians' Village Official Website - www.NOLAmusiciansvillage.org

Harry Connick, Jr. last played a full, headline European tour in 2000 - seven years ago - and a complete schedule of new live dates will be announced shortly.

The following UK dates are confirmed and on sale:

November 3, 2007: Royal Albert Hall, London
November 16, 2007: Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow
November 17, 2007: Birmingham Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Harry Connick Jr. - My New Orleans on amazon.com

Harry Connick, Jr. Official Website

Related - New Orleans Jazz Fest 2007 lineup announced

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