VIDEO: Harry Connick Jr. Talks Jazz, Charles Mingus, And ‘Harry’

 

Harry Connick Jr.’s career is as diverse as they come, and if you’re a fan of jazz, crooners, Broadway musicals (The Pajama Game), movies (check out Bug and Copycat),  and pop culture (American Idol), you’re probably familiar with his body of work. His latest venture Harry is a daytime variety show that premieres September 12, and during a recent interview I asked him if his lifelong love and dedication to jazz has influenced him as an artist.

HARRY - Pictured: Harry Conick Jr., Host and Executive Producer, "Harry" -- (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/NBC)
HARRY – Pictured: Harry Conick Jr., Host and Executive Producer, “Harry” — (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/NBC)

To give further context to Connick Jr.’s answer, I mentioned two talented composers (bassist Charles Mingus and saxophonist Branford Marsalis) in my jazz question. His full answer, in transcript and video form, is below:

“Mingus wasn’t up there just having fun – he was having fun but jazz is hard. It’s really hard. There are rules, and in those rules are infinite possibilities. It’s a very interesting type of music to play, and it’s quite revealing when you’re not good at it or when you haven’t done your homework. It’s the ultimate dichotomy of high art and ultimate soul-bearing passion.

When you are surrounded with that your entire life by people who do it a lot better than you . . . even though I don’t do that all the time in public, that’s from whence I came and I love that place. I could talk to you specifically about that, if you’re talking about Mingus, (we) could talk hours and hours about that.

It’s the same philosophy to everything. Like if George Clooney was a guest on my show, I would have to know everything there is to know under the sun about that man and why he was on my show. But you would never know any of that. He would feel that the entire world was revolving around George Clooney for those six, twelve, or those eighteen minutes because of the preparation that has been done.

You’re not going to see me reading it. It’s going to be – how do we celebrate this guy for that amount of time or this single mom from Minneapolis who was a kindergarten teacher – or whoever it is. That is the same type of thinking that goes into sitting in a room with Branford Marsalis and he’s playing something and challenging you to outplay him. That’s what I love.” 

Check out the promo for Harry Connick Jr.’s Harry below. The video’s track “(I Like It When You) Smile” is featured on his latest album That Would Be Me.

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