Though few modern singers have so successfully straddled the line between "entertainment" and "art" as well as Harry Connick Jr., not as much has been made of the New Orleans native's consummate musicianship as perhaps should have been. He's first and foremost a pianist, but Connick is also an outstanding singer. He has routinely been compared to Frank Sinatra and labeled a "crooner" since emerging into the public spotlight as a child prodigy at the tail end of the '70s.
Connick wears these labels well, and with good humor, but in truth, they only tell half the story. Connick is a first-rate jazz musician, an eminently talented composer and arranger, and a daring melder of divergent styles.
The simultaneous recent release of the New Orleans tribute albums "Oh My Nola" and "Chanson du Vieux Carre" drives this point home, as does some recent duet work with saxophonist and fellow New Orleans native Branford Marsalis.
Connick and his wonderful band arrive for a gig inside Shea's Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St., at 8 p.m. next Friday. Tickets are $36.50 to $66.50 and can be found at the Shea's box office or through Ticketmaster.
-- Jeff Miers