After numerous flirtations with pop standards and big band vocals, Harry Connick Jr. is returning to small ensemble traditional jazz for his next release.

After numerous flirtations with pop standards and big band vocals, Harry Connick Jr. is returning to small ensemble traditional jazz for his next release. Due July 15, the all-instrumental "Other Hours - Connick on Piano, Volume 1," will be his bow for Marsalis Music, the label formed by saxophonist Branford Marsalis in early 2002.

All of Connick's previous releases were for Columbia, where Marsalis enjoyed a stint as an executive in the jazz department. Connick studied with Marsalis' father Ellis early in his career.

Joining the pianist on "Other Hours" are tenor saxophonist Ned Goold, bassist Neal Caine, and drummer Arthur Latin II, all members of Connick's touring orchestra. Much of the material is culled from Connick's Tony-nominated score for the Broadway musical "Thou Shalt Not"; the remainder consists of compositions written for but not used in the final version of the play.

"When I tour with my big band, I enjoy everything that is involved, from writing the material and getting the audience feedback to being on the road with everyone," Connick said in a statement. "But while piano playing is a huge part of what I do, there is only so much that will fit into my shows. The quartet offers something different and more intimate, both musically and socially. It provides the chance to go places I can't go as a pianist in other formats, and allows a more intensive look at my approach to the instrument."

Connick's last project, "Songs I Heard," debuted November 2001 at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart. In addition to his recording career, Connick has been seen on the television series "Will and Grace" in a recurring role as the character Leo.