WHAT'S THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY?

THE PROBLEM FOR CRITICS AND JAZZ POLICE IS NO PROBLEM TO HARRY CONNICK JR. HE'S CROONING ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK.

Connick can sway with languid dexterity from New Orleans jazz piano prodigy to easy pop/rock troubadour, but there's no denying his major influence: an artist he's had a couple of reverential, backstage audiences with, playing Butterfly to Master. The man who most embodies his musician/spotlight god/entertainer ethos. One of the few artists Connick will admit to being jealous of.

Mr. Frank Sinatra.
"Let's put it this way: People seem to forget that he's the greatest singer in the world," says Connick. "I could go on and on. I'm one of the only people you'll talk to who actually does that for a living--sing with a big band every night--and I know how hard that is to do.

"And for somebody like him to hear somebody like me, man, I wouldn't even turn my head if I were him. Just for him to be professionally nice to me and say, 'I know what you're doing, keep going, keep it up,' that's very kind. Cause he'll sing me into the ground, and everyone else."
Which leads us back to the sacred, keep-the-paying-customers-happy law of the saloon singer.

"What I'm starting to realize as I grow a little bit older is that people don't care about all that musical stuff--harmony and rhythm and theme. What they care about is, 'When I pay my X amount of dollars, am I going to enjoy the show?'" Connick says. "There are so many artists out there singing about political problems and this and that, it's like, hey--let's have a good time. People come to forget about that stuff. That's really why we're all doing this, to get applauded by fans.

"I don't want to have 20 people at the Maple Leaf bar in New Orleans listening to me when I'm 60 years old, I don't want that. I want to have 100,000 people singing along to my songs.

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