Gary Giddins
November 01, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

Blue Light, Red Light

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Harry Connick Jr.
genre
Jazz

We gave it a C+

This is Harry Connick’s most ambitious and probably best album to date. At times, as on the appealing ballad ”Jill,” Blue Light is almost persuasive enough to suggest that Connick will actually succeed in his vain dream of becoming a Sinatra for the ’90s. But he won’t. He writes, with someone identified only as ”McLean,” the kinds of songs Sinatra once sang, and he orchestrates them in the manner of Sinatra’s key arrangers. And he persists, even though his voice has a distinctive boudoir timbre of its own, in trying to phrase, shout, and cajole his very uneven lyrics (mostly about love and deprivation) as Sinatra might. It’s a remarkable but decidedly derivative achievement — virtuoso lounge singing backed by occasionally clever, intermittently satisfying big-band scores. In a liner note, signed ”Swingfully, Harry,” Connick writes, ”Between me and you, we’re going to make jazz and swing music loved by the whole world.” Hey, Harry, a couple of dudes named Ellington and Basie already did that. C+

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