It was billed as a Christmas concert, and it was in a church, but it was hardly “Silent Night.”
Harry Connick Jr. with his four band members and a minister friend from Bridgeport, Conn., made a loud and joyful noise Sunday night in the sanctuary of St. Mark Catholic Church.
Most of the music may have been traditional Christmas songs or carols, but the style and sound ranged from jazz, blues, soul and gospel, to some rock ’n’ roll. All was played with such energy and exuberance that the congregation was up, clapping its hands as the rafters shook.
Connick, who has made a name for himself as a singer, pianist, song writer, arranger and actor on both stage and screen, is also known for his Christmas music.
The multi-talented entertainer and philanthropist took a break from his eight-performance-a-week Broadway gig to do a Christmas concert in Richmond, his only one this year.
Connick, who performed a Christmas concert at St. Mark last year, said he did not want to go through the season without doing a Christmas concert. Also, he wanted to reunite with his bandmates, with whom he had not performed for months while fulfilling his Broadway obligation.
While Connick’s many abilities and accomplishments may give him a talent edge over his saxophonist, trombonist, bassist and drummer, they are peers as instrumentalists. Each alone would be worth the price of admission to hear.
If that abundance of talent was not enough, Connick brought in Jonathan DuBose Jr., a minister and guitarist, who added to the mix and excitement.
“This really is a miracle,” Sichko said at a matinee performance, for which attendees were given tickets in exchange for a toy donation.
The toys were being distributed in central Kentucky as well as in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, the section of the city hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Sichko said.
Connick started out alone, first performing a jazz version of “Winter Wonderland,” that he did for the “Harry Met Sally” movie sound track.
Then his bassist came on stage carrying a sleigh bells set, and they played “Sleigh Bells Ring.”
Then they were joined by their drummer.
Next on stage was the saxophonist, who often leaned toward the audience, pointing the mouth of his well-worn, well-played instrument at them.
The four then gave a soulful rendition of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” which has struck a chord with Americans since it was introduced during World War II by Bing Crosby.
Then came the trombonist, who delighted the crowd and set high standards for the other instrumentalists. He and the saxophonist seemed to compete to see which could blow the loudest and most artful sounds.
Finally, they were joined by DuBose and his guitar.
Performing with a large crucifix just over their heads, Connick and DuBose departed briefly from the Christmas theme to play an emotional, bluesy version of “The Old Rugged Cross.”
Although he had top billing, Connick gave each a turn in the spotlight as the audience rewarded them applause.
Connick apologized because the musicians did not have time to practice. Only musicians as serious about their work as Connick and his friends would have offered such a remark. No apologies were necessary as the concert had to be one of the best a small-town audience could ever hope to hear.
The musicians departed from the Christmas theme a second time to close out the matinee with a raucous rendition of “Shake, Rattle and Roll.”
Only the deafening applause at the end could have drowned out the sound of the musicians who seemed to enjoy the concert as much as the audience.
Bill Robinson can be reached at email@example.com or at 624-6622.