By Holli Harms

Jeff Harnar’s concert “It’s De-Lovely: Jeff Harnar Sings Cole Porter” at Birdland Jazz Club takes you into the wonderful world of Cole Porter.

Jeff Harnar is a message in a bottle. The kind that floats to shore with words of hope from the past written on a piece of paper and carefully rolled and corked for preservation. Words of promise for the future, for new discoveries, words of love, and deep emotions that exist as fountains of purity in each of us. His message is the words of Cole Porter. The witty, clever, poignant, wildly entertaining lyrics of such classics as “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love,” “It’s De-Lovely,” “I’m Throwing A Ball Tonight,” “Can Can,” and many more.

Porter writes of the important moments in life, of the impractical thoughts and feelings that come with love and desire and just being. His observations of things like the congratulations of the energy of a party, of the rich and self-involved in, “Well Did Ya Evah,” are transporting. Porter wrote the stories of human flaws, our imperfections when it comes to love, and foibles when it comes to life. He wrote about them all with absolute love. Harnar knows how to play those Porter words to their full colorful meaning. He paints pictures and tells stories. He and his band, music director and pianist Alex Rybeck, Ritt Henn on bass, and Dan Gross on drums. The audience was laughing with lighthearted exuberance.  Porter’s “I’m Throwing A Ball” is hilarious as he lists all the famous people of the time being invited to his party and all of them have an excuse why they can’t/won’t make it. Harnar sang the original with a twinkle in his eye, and then he sang his modern rendition inviting the stars of today, Lady Gaga being one of them. It was brilliant!

Jeff Harnar’s voice and presence come across as effortless. His is a collective of how to work a room and create community. Each song he sings exposes the characters and story and we become invested in both. He takes us from the quiet of “In The Still Of The Night” to the raw ebullience of “I Happen to Like New York”… “Even the stink of it.”

I happen to like Jeff Hernar’s Cole Porter show so much because I get to step into places like Birdland and revel in the music, the songs, the place, and their history, and be joyfully transported.

The Birdland concert launches Harnar and Rybeck on a tour of Cole Porter performances including six at The Delray Beach Playhouse in Delray Beach, FL (3/25-28), a concert at the Center for the Arts in Bonita Springs, FL (3/30), followed by two nights at Davenport’s in Chicago, IL (4/12-13).

Birdland Jazz Club is located at 315 West 44th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues) in Manhattan. For reservations, please call (212) 581-3080 or visit www.BirdlandJazz.com.