Cabaret Review: IT’S DE-LOVELY: JEFF HARNAR SINGS COLE PORTER (Birdland and on Tour

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by Paulanne Simmons on March 15, 2024

in Concerts / Events,Theater-New York,Tours


It was as a 16-year-old boy in a suburb of Chicago that Jeff Harnar fell in love with the songs of Cole Porter. He encountered these songs not through his parents’ huge record collection or by attending local concerts, but rather through the old films he watched on television.

The film that first turned Harnar on to Porter was the 1936 hit, Born to Dance. With It’s De-Lovely: Jeff Harnar Sings Cole Porter at Birdland, March 11, Harnar proved he was born to sing Porter.

Cole Porter was one of the few songwriters who wrote both the words and lyrics. His lyrics are known for their elegance and sophistication, filled with internal and complicated rhymes, and startling wit. His music is known for its interesting melodic lines and harmonies.

Harnar is especially sensitive to Porter’s nuanced feelings expressed in his songs, mostly about love (“In the Still of the Night”), yearning (“I’ve Got You Under My Skin”) and loss (“Just One of Those Things”). He understands Porter’s urbane sense of humor  (“Let’s Do It Let’s Fall in Love.)” And he can memorize and deliver Porter’s many lists (“You’re the Top”).

Many of Porter’s songs incorporate cultural phenomena of the period – people and places that are no longer recognized. So Harnar wrote his own lyrics to “I’m Throwing a Ball Tonight” referencing the likes of Lady Gaga, Pussy Riot and Katie Couric.

Harnar doesn’t have a big voice. But he has the right voice for Porter – smooth, occasionally sorrowful, sometimes ironic. His delivery is meticulous.

According to legend, Porter would sit way up in the balcony and ring a bell every time he couldn’t hear a lyric. There’s no balcony at Birdland, and Cole Porter is no longer with us. But we can imagine even if there were a balcony and Porter were alive, no bells would have been heard during Harnar’s masterful performance.

It’s De-Lovely Jeff Harnar Sings Cole Porter
Birdland Jazz Club, 315 West 44 Street
reviewed on March 11, 2024
for more Jeff Harnar stuff, visit, well, Jeff Harnar

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