In her final live performance of 2021, singer Shari Lynn continues to be a consummate songbird others can learn from.
She illuminates any tune she sings, investing an actress’ stance in interpretation, storytelling with lyrics that give melodies substance and breadth.
Her passion is luminous, as she brightens and heightens a song with her elocution and expressive delivery.
In her Medici’s at Manoa Marketplace gig last night (Dec. 10), she opted to stage a mixed bag of a show without sacrificing relevance. It’s the holiday season, so yes, there were a few Christmas pauses, with mentions of that Claus named Santa. But the artist in her didn’t pause or miss the opportunity to put her imprint on exceptional songs with stellar lyrics, from two creators passionate of the tradition of tough, revelatory words to accompany infectious melodies for the brave souls willing to sing ‘em.
Thus, her pair of tributes to the late Stephen Sondheim, the prolific creator of some of Broadway’s brightest and innovative shows who died on Nov. 26, and Dave Frishberg, the underappreciated jazz pianist and composer who passed on Nov. 17.
The homages were powerfully honest and pure, reflecting differing styles that challenge the performer and in her hands, their diverse songs reflected an invisible bond.
The Sondheim section included the inevitable, the reflective “Send in the Clown” from “A Little Night Music,” about ill-fated love that perhaps is his most popular title, plus the rousing Mama Rose’s show-stopper, “Some People,” from “Gypsy,” with all the histrionics and body language befitting an artist who has done the show and the tune and continues to celebrate their allure.
The Frishberg collection included “I Can’t Take You Nowhere,” which might be bad grammar, but with tongue-twisting words, plus “My Attorney Bernie,” a fun piece about an attorney.
The opening song, an instrumental version of “O Christmas Tree” rendered by pianist Jim Howard and bassist Bruce Hamada, was solemn and mood-setting, soon diverting to a jazz version of “Santa Baby,” serious and seductive, unlike the wildly uproarous Jewish/Christmas parody that has become one of Shari’s trademark this time of year. Yep, she’s officially Jewish but practices the vows of Christmas complete with multiple decorated trees at home.
Her interpretation of a Barbra Streisand holiday album track,”The Best Gift,” again demonstrated her savvy in extending lyrics into smart tale-sharing, and yep, there was a skosh of Barb in her delivery.
Her onetime, longtime accompanist, keyboarder Don Conover, took the stage by playing piano on a medley of “Remember/Toyland,” a sweet cameo from the past.
Her parody of “My Favorite Things,” with hilarious and insane lyrics, was clearly and grandly goofy and fun.
An advocate of the Great American Songbook, Shari dusted off a couple of “standards,” like “The Best Is Yet to Come,” the Peggy Lee-composed “I Love Being Here With You” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” tossing in a hana hou in “Here’s To Love.”
With pandemic protocols lowering for restaurants and clubs, perhaps Medici’s should eliminate the plastic curtain fronting the stage. The see-through shield is a major distraction now; it’s like watching a show through shower curtains. Face masks, of course, still are necessary to attend. …
And that’s Show Biz. …