Shari Lynn can be affectionately labeled a chanteuse, because she has the pipes, the vigor, the capability of fusing singing with storytelling with acting.
In yet another Medici’s appearance last night (May 21), she shared her love for jazz, her passion for the stage and her joy of dusting off oldies. She possesses a reliable voice but is a seasoned stage actor who knows how to deliver a melody while delivering lyrics with empathy that pushes her performance to the caliber of a stage gig.
No sets, no special lighting, no book, no ensemble of back-up singers or dancers. Her trusty musicians are pianist-arranger Jim Howard and bassist John Kolivas, and remarkably, their union elevates a cabaret performance where words and music matter plenty. There is an intermission of sorts, like actual theater, but more on that later.
When Shari sings, everyone listens. Her intersection of skills might well be her take-home memory. On a seldomly performed novelty, “The Boy From,” a parody of sorts of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “The Girl From Ipanema,” she bossa novas her way, somewhat with tongue in cheek, to the subtle Brazilian tempo on a gem with manic lines and exquisite delivery. The song is by Stephen Sondheim, the esteemed master of intricacy, who utilized a pseudonym of Esteban Riunuti with collaborator Mary Rodgers to create this height of kookiness for a musical called, what else, “The Mad Show.”(Yep, she knows the history and idiosyncrasies of most of her song choices).
It is a comedic jewel amid her playlist of serious jazz and reflective romantic faves from the short list of master composers from an earlier time.
You could hear a pin drop, when she took a pop trip with “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” with many lips quietly mimicking the lyrics. She respects the melody and savors the lyricism.
When she visits her Broadway evergreens of ditties performed by what she dubs “loud women,” she is in fine form. Delivering Barbra Streisand’s “People” from “Funny Girl” and Carol Channing’s (or most recently Bette Midler’s) “Before the Parade Passes By” from “Hello, Dolly,” she is in her theatrical element.
She is comfy with jazz and the Great American Songbook; and yes, there are resourceful centerpieces like “Love Is Here to Stay,” “Fascinating Rhythm” and “Embraceable You” from the library of George and Ira Gershwin, and “I Got the Sun in the Morning,” “What’ll I Do, “Let Yourself Go,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and “Stepping Out With My Baby” from the well of Irving Berlin. Her template is joyously jazz.
Of course, she pays tribute to New York via an expressive “I Love Being Here” (and she will be, in June) and “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” anthems about the pulse of the city.
Finally, there are mounting, peculiar protocols at Medici’s. There is no gracious way to say this, but the club’s co-owners, Timothy and Carolyn Stanton, continue to take the stage in the midst of the performance to present a disruptive “commercial” that impacts the artistic arc of the show. Music fans are eager to support and keep the club open, and yes, Tim (the chef) and Carolyn (front of house honcho and music teacher) work tirelessly to showcase Shari and other acts. A pitch after the show might be kosher, but midway is no way to go. Tim’s culinary skills are applaudable but now he serves jokes, too. The mission of the cozy club is to provide a venue for musicians; and passing around a collection bowl is morally wrong. Churches do this, but clubs shouldn’t. End of sermon.