Recording as a vocal piano duo is tantamount to doing a high-wire act without a net - there's simply no margin for error. Musicians less talented than the principals here don't even attempt it. For singer Shari Lynn and pianist Bob Corwin though, it's no big deal.
Between the two of them Shari and Bob have been pleasing listeners for half a century, in concert halls, posh showrooms, and more intimate "cabaret" venues.
Since moving to Hawaii in 1976, Shari has developed a cadre of loyal fans throughout the Islands where she performs on radio and TV and at the most popular venues including cabarets (she is a fellow of the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Cabaret Symposium) in Symphony concerts, on cruise ships and stars in numerous classic Broadway musicals. Shari's acting talents have earned her six Po'okelas (Hawaii's "Tony Award".) She was named 1994's Best Actress in Hawaii's People's Choice Awards and has made appearances on Magnum P.I., Jake and The Fatman, Hart To Hart, Charlie's Angels and The Jefferson’s.
With a repertoire of over 1500 songs, her forte is jazz-tinged tunes of the 1930's, '40's and '50's as well as Broadway showstoppers.
Wayne Harada of The Honolulu Advertiser calls her "a sensuous performer" and lauds her for her "way with lyrics" and "feel for mood." Thomas Tucker of The Los Angeles Herald Dispatch says "she sings a song with exquisite delicacy that forces the audience to listen with their hearts."
Choosing Bob Corwin to accompany her on this album of Johnny Mercer tunes was no happenstance for Shari. The two gigged together in Honolulu before Bob moved back to the mainland. His list of credits includes recording with jazz immortals such as Chet Baker, Peggy Lee, Carmen McCrae, Anita O'day and Phil Woods. (Bob says he enjoyed working with Shari as much or more than the aforementioned superstars.) Corwin was a logical choice for this album; he was Johnny Mercer's accompanist for 18 years.
As with Shari, Bob's artistry doesn't depend on frills and histrionics. Bob's one of those rare pianists who just loves to accompany. His comping cords and runs here are things of spare beauty.
The Johnny Mercer songs in this collection are perfect vehicles for introducing Shari Lynn's vocal abilities. Mercer's catalogue is widely diverse and offers Shari the opportunity to show her own diversity and creativity. Although most of the tunes here are well known, Miss Lynn has the knack of springing subtle surprises on the listener with a scoop here or a bent note there to make these a fresh experience. She "acts" the lyric for us; each song becomes it's own perfect little play - all the while singing in tune and on time.
High praise for Shari's renditions comes from no other than the daughter of Johnny Mercer, Mandy Mercer Nader. "Shari has a beautiful voice and I'm pleased that she's recorded my father's songs. I particularly enjoyed Midnight Sun and Dream."
And after you hear these tracks, you'll want to tell those who worry about the future of our good ole' American standards that they're in good hands. With any luck, Bob Corwin and Shari Lynn will keep the music playing for a long time to come.
- excerpted from the liner notes by Sam Polson,
award-winning jazz CD reviewer and photojournalist