Occasion

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Branford Marsalis,Harry Connick Jr
LABELS: Marsalis music
PERFORMER: Harry Connick Jr (piano), Branford Marsalis (saxophones)
CATALOGUE NO: 11661-3313-2A

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A second volume of ‘Connick On Piano’ on Branford Marsalis’s label, this gathers a series of duets by the pianist with label boss Branford dividing his time between soprano and (mostly) tenor saxophone. No easy options taken, either: no obvious standards or idle jamming on the blues. Connick contributes 11 originals and Branford two. The feel overall is musing, playful sometimes, mainly introspective. Which is perhaps the problem with the record: neither Harry nor Branford are really introspective guys.

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They produce the best music when they’re digging in a little, on the tilting, curious opener ‘Brown World’ and the rocking closer ‘Good To Be Home’. Connick’s not strong on original melodies and, while not exactly tuneless, several tracks sound gloomily shapeless and slow. Some lovely chords on ‘I Like Love More’, though, and Branford contributes a brief and effective homage to the departed soprano master with ‘Steve Lacy’. Richard Cook