Summer delights: Two consummate singers, together for the first time
They may not be well known outside of Chicago, but during their long and distinguished careers, both June Yvon and Everett Greene have embodied the strongest kind of tie that exists in music: the ongoing love affair between the jazz community and the seasoned singer of popular songs.
For 21 years, Yvon was a weekly presence at the City Life Cocktail Lounge on 83rd Street, Writing about one of her performances there during the Chicago Jazz Festival club tour, critic Howard Mandel wrote: "She delivers bluesy, swinging, funky standards such as 'What A Difference A Day Makes' with experienced conviction, scatting and dramatizing the lyrics, too." Yvon ended her run at City Life last year and is the first to admit how much she misses it.
Greene has been making the trip to Chicago clubs from his home in Indianapolis for decades, bringing back the glory days of Billy Eckstine with his bottomless bass-baritone and doing honor to such crooners as Arthur Prysock and Johnny Hartman. Proving it's never too late to bloom, he recorded his first major album, the ultra-romantic My Foolish Heart, in 1998, when he was in his early sixties. (His accompanists included noted Chicago product Norman Simmons.) The same year, Greene finished fifth out of 300 entrants in the Thelonious Monk vocal competition – as if to say, take that, whippersnappers!
Before tonight, Yvon and Greene had never shared the stage, which they'll do following their individual sets. In fact, though they have followed each other for years, they had never appeared together, period. But they may find themselves returning to the splendid setting of the Columbus Park Refectory, with its three porticos and lagoon and grounds created by Jens Jensen, dean of Prairie-style landscape architecture. This is a popular spot for weddings – what better entertainment could lovebirds ask for than the romantic moments served up by these singers?
Backing Yvon and Greene will be the first-rate trio of pianist Dennis Luxion, bassist Stewart Miller and drummer Phil Gratteau.
JazzCity is a free concert series initiated in 1997 by the Jazz Institute in collaboration with the Chicago Park District, now in its 17th season of bringing people together from across the city to listen to Chicago’s top jazz musicians. JazzCity is sponsored by WDCB 90.9 FM and WHPK 88.5 FM Radio and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information visit www. Jazzinchicago.org or call 312.427.1676