Story and Photos by James Walker
Some have labeled him as a cross between Joe Williams and Arthur Prysock, two of Chicago's legendary crooning baritones. What giant "shoes" to fill for this Indianapolis vocalist who has a huge Chicago followeing from his years of appearances in the Windy City. No worry, it didn't take long for Everett and his superior band mates to immediately captivate this sparse but enthuiastic crowd at the weekly Checker Jazz Set sponsored by the Hyde Park Jazz Society.
Everett journeyed to Chicago with some of his favorite musicians, bassist Frank Smith, drummer Kenny Phelps and keyboardist Marvin Chandler. These guys were on point all night with Chandler often "stealing" the spotlight with some exceptional soloing. The crowd seemed to particuliarly enjoy watching him in action. With an infectious smile on his face, it was quite obvious that Chandler and his band mates were having a "ball." It was amazing to watch him in action as he atttacked the 88s with such grace and ease without glancing down at the keyboard as his fingers glided from side to side.
Back to Mr. Greene. He brought a sound to Chicago that is soley missing. A dynamic male vocalist!!!! This city has a plethora of exceptional female vocalist, but male vocalists are almost nonexistent. If for only one night, Everett certainly filled that void with an array of standards and ballads that aren't typically heard from many vocalists. He even demonstrated his ability to venture out of his comfort zone with his rendition of the country and western classic, "Help Me Make It Through The Night." In addition, he even turned the R&B group Temptation's "The Way You Do The Things You Do" into an upbeat jazzy number. Bassist Frank Smith produced nice deep tones on this selection (as he did throughout the evening), with drummer Phelps demonstrating quick soft hands with rapid fire rapidly on an extended solo.
Phelps illustrated during this performance that one does not have to overpower the drum kit for maximum production. He used his brushes for nice subtle affect ,in addition to softly tapping the sides of the kit with his sticks that produced a scintillating sound. Occasionally though, he did "cut loose" with commanding solos, full of ideas.
As Everette concluded the first set, this listener panned around the room and noticed that almost everyone had a smile on their face and/or were affirmatively nodding their heads in approval of the sweet notes that were coming from the vocal chords of this silky smooth balladeer.
The second set was highlighted by the surprise appearance of guitarist Curtis Robinson. As Everett was concluding a nice version of Billy Daniels' "Old Black Magic," Curtis began setting up his equipment to join the fray. He and Everett serenaded the crowd with a duet of "Nearness Of You." This was a special moment of the night, as these two exceptional musicians brought the crowd to its feet with a rousing ovation at its conclusion.
The second set was also spotlighted by Mr. Greene's signature song, "Looking for Some Place to Be." This is a beautiful ballad, which of course the audience loved.
Before calling it a night, Everett coaxed vocalist Joan Collaso to join him on the stage for the third set. By this time, only a handful of die hard jazz fans remained, but what a treat they received. The lovely Ms. Collaso and debonair Mr. Greene performed 3 or 4 beautiful duets, which was a bonus for those remaining. They were spectacular and reminisced about the times they previously worked together. They didn't miss a beat and seemed to really enjoy this mini set. One thing for sure, those of us who remained were truly the benefactors of these two professional vocalists.
For specifics about future Checker Jazz events, refer to www.checkerjazz.org.