Show and Tell Hawai'i

Shari Lynn at Medici: A genuine jewel of jazz

June 26th, 2016

Shari Lynn, at Medici's; background, bassist Jon Hawes




Shari Lynn, with bassist Jon Hawes, at her monthly gig at Medici's at Manoa Market place; the view of the stage from the balcony.


Shari Lynn’s monthly stint at Medici’s at Manoa Marketplace — she’s normally warbling on the last Friday of each month, and I took in last night’s (June 24) event — was wonderfully relaxing and a super site to soak up her polished and powerful artistry.

Her devotees make this almost like a jazz club’s monthly meeting, a mecca for sharing good jazz vibes with a well-stocked buffet of nibbles. A balcony level perch gives you a bird’s eye view of the proceedings on the second-level floor where circular tables are communal worship stations for Shari’s generous and glorious performance of songs you know from her repertoire of the Great American Songbook.

The Shari Lynn Trio this evening featured her regular cohort on piano, Jim Howard, and Jon Hawes on a stand-up bass once owned by the late Steve Jones was a newbie. “Did you steal it?” Shari jokingly asked the young dude deeply tuned in to the ritual of maintaining that undercoating of deep bass riffs. No, he didn’t swipe the stand-up fiddle; Jones earlier “retired” that instrument and Hawes became its lucky recipient to carry on it and his legacy. Huge responsibility on his shoulders; or fingers, I should say.

Certainly, Jones had been a frequent musician supporting Shari, so an appropriate note of appreciation was paid to the well-loved accompanist who lost his battle to cancer recently.

And, of course, Shari continues to salute, respect and reflect on the late Jimmy Borges, whom she called a “world-class jazz singer” who “bravely and publicly” waged his own battle against cancer. The chanteuse chose Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” as the ditty to cherish the memory of Borges, with whom she had done this song as a duet over the decades.

Shari’s m.o. is much like Borge’s — heck, the association made one influence the other, in a mutual admiration society of sorts. Similar menu of resourceful standards that touch the heart, have something to say, acknowledge the composer, and delivered with earnest soulfulness. The formula continues to work; that’s that genuine magic of two classic jazz singers who share storytelling skills in her vocal delivery.

When Shari offers “I’ve Got the World on a String,” there’s a ring of truth; she’s unmistakably the prevailing jazz female jazz artist; she’s a favorite on the club circuit; she mixes her daytime job as a teacher with her passion to grow as a vocalist; she periodically basks in the spotlight as a musical comedy star in local theater; she spends her vacation expanding her horizons of her craft by immersing in self-improvement workshops and research to mount future projects.

For instance, George and Ira Gershwin are among her favorite resources; during a June trip to Washington D.C., she touched (and photographed) the actual piano the George composed “Porgy and Bess” and saw the typewriter and pen that Ira owned to compose the lyrics.

This reflection was a terrific intro to the Gershwin brothers’ “The Man I Love” ballad; Shari captures the nuances of the poetry and rides the waves of those juicy blues notes.

“Send in the Clowns,” from “A Little Night Music,” is one of her signatures that bring out her prowess and depth as a stage actor; there’s such a range of emotions in her delivery, from subtle to coy to romantic. Her enunciation and vocal punctuation truly bring out the essence of composer’s Stephen Sondheim’s drama-in-song.

“That Ol’ Black Magic” is another specimen of how swell her spell is; she moves and grooves, and demonstrates why titles like this never fade.

With husband Michael Acebedo in the house with a group of friends, Shari got personal with the acknowledgement that they just marked their 41st wedding anniversary, recalling their marriage at Kauai’s Fern Grotto four decades ago. And she dedicated “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” to him.

Shari never takes her backup gents instrumental for granted, always giving them solo moments in nearly all tunes, giving credit where it’s due.

Such is the generosity of this genuine jewel of jazz.

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