Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Jeff Harnar sings classics by Cy Coleman

If you love Broadway and American Popular Song, you’ll love multi-award-winning concert artist Jeff Harnar’s latest album, A Collective Cy: Jeff Harnar Sings Cy Coleman.

Harnar brings his exuberance, interpretive acumen and “voice that out-Sinatras Sinatra” (BroadwayWorld) to bear on a titan of popular song whose work won multiple Tony, Grammy and Emmy awards over a six-decade career. Adapted from an award-winning stage show, A Collective Cy represents 40 years of Harnar’s fruitful collaboration with music director Alex Rybeck. Here Rybeck conducts a full orchestra with charts arranged specifically for this recording, which works its witchcraft on 17 Coleman songs, from classics to lesser-known gems. In addition, the album includes special guest vocalists Ann Hampton CallawayLiz CallawayNicolas King, and Danny Bacher (who also solos on saxophone), along with featured guitarist Sean HarknessA Collective Cy is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

A Collective Cy is no mere anthology, but rather is a bravura celebration of a composer equally at home in the worlds of pop and Broadway, in performances soaked in Harnar and Rybeck’s jazz-tinged theatricality. Much as Coleman did, Harnar and Rybeck marry stage-worthy savvy to the seeming effortlessness of jazz. It’s an approach and an album of which Coleman himself would have heartily approved, and indeed, two-time Coleman collaborator Tommy Tune raved, “Jeff Harnar’s singing and Cy Coleman’s music make a perfect duet.” David Zippel, Coleman’s lyricist on their Tony Award–winning City of Angels – who also wrote liner note for this new album – concurred: “Cy would’ve loved it.” 

Jeff Harnar and Liz Callaway

The guest artists that brighten the album include Ann Hampton Callaway, pairing with Harnar on a sly and provocative “I’ve Got Your Number,” and her sister Liz Callaway joining Harnar for “Our Private World,” their intertwining voices illuminating the purity of the melody while allowing it to soar. Nicolas King and Danny Bacher, two of the most prominent young jazz singers on the scene, offer their vocal sparkle to a dazzling trio in “Rhythm of Life.” Guitar luminary Sean Harkness lends his prowess to a tender duet on “It Amazes Me.” The revered bassist Jay Leohart and music director Alex Rybeck show a different skill set with their backup vocals on “(Doop Doo-De-Oop) A Doodlin’ Song.”

A Collective Cy features highlights from Coleman’s legendary musicals Sweet Charity (“My Personal Property,” “If My Friends Could See Me Now”), Seesaw (“My City,“ “I’m Way Ahead”), and City of Angels (“With Every Breath I Take”), plus little-known songs like “So Little Time” (cut from Barnum),

This jazz-inspired meeting of Jeff Harnar, a passionate explorer of the Great American Songbook, and Cy Coleman, a master of both sophisticated pop standards and catchy Broadway show tunes, is a scintillating combination. A vocalist at the height of his powers, Harnar blazes a unique path through this ravishing set that stands out brightly among the tributes to Coleman and his contemporaries. PS Classics is proud to present this ideal pairing of artist and repertoire.

Harnar will celebrate the album with a special concert tour with shows in Carmel, IN at Feinstein’s at the Carmichael (9/8-9), St Louis, MO at Blue Strawberry (9/15), Chicago, IL at Hey Nonny (9/20), London, England at The Pheasantry (9/27-28), and New York, NY at Birdland (10/2), with other national tour dates to be announced.

A Collective Cy: Jeff Harnar Sings Cy Coleman is out on CD and digital formats on Friday, September 8.

Queer Forty Staff

Queer Forty writing staff work hard to bring you all the latest articles to help inspire and inform.

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