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Jeff Harnar: Dancing in the Dark

I’ve been less than shy about sharing my negative opinion of Rod Stewart’s Great American Songbook series. You can’t call the sticky porridge Stewart keeps serving up jazz. It’s certainly not rock, nor quite pop. Which places it, by default, in that gray area known as cabaret. If that’s where these dreadful discs must lie, then I recommend you leave them there to atrophy and instead discover one of the genre’s true connoisseurs, Jeff Harnar.

Where Stewart opts for overlush productions of the safest, most predictable tunes, Harnar has, throughout a two-decade career that includes just four solo albums, consistently mined exponentially more intelligent choices. Consider, for example, his masterful 1991 live recording that shaped four dozen show tunes, all drawn from the 1959 Broadway season, into a single tale of love lost and found.

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