Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How Slow Is Too Slow? -- Harry Connick Jr.

My wife has a funny expression. It's about a favorite aunt who talks very, very slowly. "You want to reach down her throat and pull out the words," my wife says.

That's exactly how I felt listening to a song on Harry Connick Jr.'s 1990 album "Lofty's Roach Souffle." I wanted to grab his fingers and force the notes out.

Now, I should note that I like this CD very much. It is strictly instrumental, which is unusual for Connick. More important, it comes closer to sounding like Thelonious Monk, without actually playing Monk's music, than anything I've heard in years. Connick has the gestures down cold. The plink and plunk and odd silences. The unlikely notes struck together. It's all the more impressive because these are original compsitions.

But I digress.

The slow tune is called "Little Dancing Girl." I'm sure there's an interesting story behind it, and maybe it's in the liner notes, but I lost them. So now all I have is this track, which runs 7:33 and feels about twice that long. I know it's a matter of preference, but I can't imagine anyone liking a song that drags... so... slowly.

In fairness, I generally prefer romps to ballads. I like swinging Sinatra more than ballad Sinatra. I like bebop Charlie Parker better than sensuous Charlie Parker. And yet, as I get older, I find myself more and more drawn to songs like "Someone To Watch Over Me." The movie "Mr. Holland's Opus" has an especially beautiful version of that classic Gershwin tune.

But this song? Maybe if I play it twice as fast I could find a tune in it. As it is... meh.

Anyway, buy this CD, definitely. But skip this track and go on to the next one, which is a bouncy New Orleans-y ride on the 88s. You'll thank me.

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