photo: courtesy of Carlo Corbellini
Ask any musical junkie to describe the sound of Chicago, and jazz will be one of the top genres in a long line of impressive city staples. And any jazz aficionado will eagerly guide you to the century-old Green Mill
Lounge, home to infamous gangsters and the sultry mix of saxophones and basses. It has hosted the likes of Al Jolson and Patricia Barber, but step in late on a Sunday evening, and you'll be treated to the sounds of Kimberly Gordon, also called the Nightingale of the Green Mill. Her smooth covers are reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, with a dash of Billie Holiday—sounds that can be heard on her album of covers, Melancholy Serenade
Having spent close to 20 years singing jazz standards at venues such as the Underground Wonder Bar, Katerina's and Cuatro, Gordon is finally taking the time to create originals. She'll be featured in Brian Caunter's 2008 film "Chicago Overcoat," singing her romantic tune, "You're Sweet. You're Mine."
If I were to come to your neighborhood, where would you insist I visit?
Definitely the forest preserves first, because they are beautiful and there's a lot of them around me. I'm new to the suburbs, so I really can't name them. Another one of my favorite places is Yu's Mandarin Restaurant. He was the chef for George W. Bush, back in the day, and he's really amazing.
What's your favorite hidden gem in Chicago
The Zoo Rookery is one of my favorites. It's where all the ducks are, and it's a beautiful, woodsy-type area. I grew up in Lincoln Park, and we used to go there all the time. And Katerina's. It's one of my favorite places. I don't go out, but when I do, I come here. She has a wonderful Greek night with Greek gypsy mountain music.
Who are you listening to?
I listen to a lot of Sarah Vaughan. Sassy Swings the Tivoli is my favorite CD right now and Sarah Vaughan with Michel Legrand. It's a little modern for me. I'm moving up in the years of composition. I usually don't do anything after 1950, and Michel La Grande was very popular in the '60s and '70s.
What's one thing we should know about you that we don't?
I love being a housewife. I love cooking and cleaning—singing is an extra perk.
What has being a jazz musician done for you?
I sang for Wynton Marsalis and had the chance to tour with him. I've sung for Frank Sinatra and left a demo with Ella Fitzgerald. I have been lucky, because I've had so much opportunity at my fingertips. Jazz has given me a deeper understanding of myself. It let me really be me. And I get to do what I love, because I've done the office thing, the 9-to-5, and it's not for me.
The Kimberly Gordon Trio plays at the Green Mill on Sundays from 11 p.m.- 2 a.m. Check out her monthly schedule at kgjazz.com.