Nearly four years ago, Sherry-Lynn Lee and George Paolini met at a coffeehouse hosting an open-mic night. After Paolini performed, fellow musician Lee asked him if he would be interested in collaborating.
The duo formed a band, 23rd Hour, the following year and in January released their debut album, “Perfect Strangers,” which reached No. 10 on the iTunes chart for jazz.
It took the Los Altos residents – who play both jazzy and classical music with instruments such as piano, guitar, mandolin and harmonica – approximately two years to complete the album of original songs.
The name of the band comes from a time when Lee and Paolini spent 23 consecutive hours playing music. During that marathon session, they wrote “Perfect Strangers,” the name of their first song and what would become the name of their album. Before long, they were traveling to studios in Toronto, Nashville and Mauritius to record. Each location influenced their songs; in Nashville, they hired a fiddle player to accompany them.
“We were inspired by the music wherever we went,” Lee said.
Paolini learned to play piano from his father during a coastal vacation; Lee wrote her first song as a teen, in response to a radio contest.
After seeing the effect that music education had on Paolini’s son, now a 19-year-old who just completed his freshman year at college studying music, the duo started looking for ways to give back. As avid supporters of music education, Lee and Paolini recently raised $1,000 for the Redwood City Education Foundation to fund music education programs.
Apart from fundraising for the foundation, they have partnered with the nonprofit Hungry for Music to provide instruments to children across the globe.
Outside of music, Lee and Paolini work as a data scientist and a consultant, respectively.
“Of all the things (I’ve done), music is certainly my favorite,” Paolini said.
Lee noted that her high-tech career has influenced her musical life.
“Being an indie musician is basically being an entrepreneur,” she said. “(It’s) constantly thinking about how you can get your music out there.”
The two are next scheduled to perform 8:30 p.m. July 1 at Angelica’s, 863 Main St., Redwood City. Tickets are $17-$23.
For tickets and more information, visit 23rdhr.com.