By Bill Freemon

A Treasure You May Be Overlooking

Lately, it's become some what modish for younger listeners to admit they like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra or Dino- when Lin and Ray played Westbury, Long Island, two weeks ago, for one night, there wasn't an empty seat anywhere. What's more, these guy's are relatively un-knowns. Even though one may say that it's the song selection or the aumag to the past that strikes a nerve, packing the house on Thursday, However, let me say this plainly: Lin and Ray are among the great treasures of American showbiz. They are great entertainers and great musicians. Their act contains more first rate songs, sung better, than any cabaret room in New York. In terms of musical content, they are endowed with more harmonic and melodic invention - not to mention sheer swing - than most of the city's jazz joints. And they are funnier than any act I've ever heard in a comedy club.

An evening with Lin and Ray (the "ladies first" rule doesn't apply in entertainment, i.e., Louis & Keely, Burns & Allen, Steve and Eydie) is less like a concert in the traditional sense of the term than a variety show out of the golden age of television - having said that, they're far too young to be apart of those day's gone by. So... what gives?

"How long you been .....," someone in the crowd asked. "Six inches," (was Lin's instantaneous reply), and became a full-time, showbiz team in 1998. They have announced that their current tour, which they have titled "Live From Lost Vegas," will be their last. This means that while they probably will do an occasional concert here and there, this is their final schlep across America.

When the twosome make their entrance, the first thing you notice is how youthful they appear: at their peak, and having two of the finest vocal instruments in America. Ray gets better as the evening progresses, while Lin gets more and more playful.

Rays specialty seems to be steeped in Broadway shows: "What Did I Have That I Don't Have" ("On a Clear Day") or "If He Walked Into My Life" ("Mame"). She instills them with a sincerity and subtlety that make Barbra Streisand seem like an overbaked wannabe by comparison. Mr. Lin's thing is swing, and he possesses the musical know-how as well as the chops to sing musically dazzling contrapuntal lines around Ray while she lays out the melody. Same with Ray, on occasion. Each performer could be a single but we're the richer for the team-up.

One major highlight of the act is a performance piece that is essentially a medley of "Fly Me to the Moon". Ray begins by singing it straight and beautiful, starting with the verse, the way songwriter Bart Howard first conceived the song, as an intimate ballad. Then comes Lin, swingin' the holy heck out of it courtesy of the famous Sinatra-Basie arrangement.

And if all that isn't enough, Lin playes multiple instruments while Ray, hoofs and taps like a the Broadway veteran that she is.

Hard to believe these two are relatively obscure in the fabric of Americana, however, their following are like Vikings, risking life and limn to secure a table wherever the team appears. Blame them?--Hardly, they may be the last bastions and keepers of the torch, when speaking of, "Old School".

Close Window