Review in Brief: Songs I Heard - Harry Connick, Jr.

1501821_HarryConnickJrCD.jpgWe really have Meg Ryan and the diner scene to thank for this. Jazz musician and erstwhile Broadway star Harry Connick, Jr. got his big break when he was asked to record the soundtrack to the movie When Harry Met Sally. The soundtrack was good, but the massive success of the movie was what pushed Connick into the national consciousness. More than ten years later, Connick repaid the favor -- sort of -- with his 2001 album Songs I Heard, on which he reworked Broadway and film showtunes. It's not a traditional kids' album, but when said tunes come from beloved sources such as Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, there's clearly a kids' music theme to the album. The best tracks are those where Connick lets loose his band and really swings. The opening cut, "Supercalifragilisticexpiadlidocious," is well, that word, on which Connick, Jr., backed by a New Orleans brass band, almost makes us forget Dick Van Dyke. (Connick's voice is smooth as always.) Other uptempo tracks such as "The Lonely Goatherd" and Dixieland stylings on "Spoonful of Sugar" also benefit from Connick's big band and his traditional jazz arrangements. They're definitely a new, jazzier version of the original, but they're not so different from the original that kids won't enjoy them. Less successful are the slower tracks -- I can't see kids recognizing "Maybe" (from the musical Annie) or enjoying the string-backed version here. On the whole, Songs I Heard is a playful album. It's probably too long with some songs too obscure for kids to enjoy the whole thing at one sitting but parents wanting to discover some new showtunes or hear new spins of classics may find this worthwhile and "have what she's having."