From what I can gather, "The Happy Elf" was originally a song on Harry's 2003 album "Harry For The Holidays". Then Harry expanded the song into a children's story which then became an animated film which was then adapted for the stage. Around 2005, there was a CD soundtrack and a DVD of the animated special as well. The story centers around an exhuberent Elf named Eubie trying to bring the Christmas spirit to a place called Bluesville.
I missed all of this, so I have absolutely no frame of reference for the upcoming "Music From The Happy Elf" from the Harry Connick Jr. Trio, due out September 27 on Marsalis Music.
In the latest incarnation, Harry strips down the music from the Happy Elf and presents it as straight ahead trio Jazz. At least that's my uniformed view based on a handful of 30 second samples. Along the way, he and the combo toss in a few of Harry's originals from 2008's "What A Night", "Santarrific" and that album's title track. It's quite affecting to hear the songs in that context. And, yes, there is a 10 minute reading of the story from Harry up top (apparently, there's a book release as well), but the Jazz backing makes the story seem less of a children's tale and more of a quirky adult thing. Cover illustration aside, this does not sound (to me, at least) like a children's record.
I know its sacrilege in some Christmas circles, but I don't own a single Harry Connick, Jr. album. Not that I don't think he's talented and all. He just doesn't reach me for some reason. He's one of those "blind spots" I mentioned up top. And maybe my reaction to the preview clips for this set would be entirely different had I ever heard any of the original "The Happy Elf" soundtrack (and maybe those who have will react differently than I). But I like this. I really really like this (I mean, you know, as much as you can really really like something from 30 second clips). It kind of reminds me of Lady Gaga's first appearance on Saturday Night Live when she dropped the theater and just sat at the piano and played and sang; listening to Harry Connick, Jr. playing straight ahead Jazz piano and not trying to be the next Sinatra was a revelation for me.
So I'll be picking this one up and I suspect it'll get a lot of play around my house. Your mileage may vary. Track list follows:
1. The Happy Elf Read-Along, narrated by Harry Connick, Jr.
2. The Happy Elf
4. Naughty Children of Bluesville
6. The What Song
7. The PH Song
8. Two Scoops Of Christmas
9. The Magic Hat
10. Operation Yule Tide Turning
11. Christmas Day
12. What A Night
13. Gotta Be On My Way