I think every American city has at least one vocalist of a certain age who is a unique stylist, a collector of grand and forgotten songs, and who has come to represent that city by talent and reputation. In San Francisco, for instance, there’s a woman named Weslia Whitfield; I’d pick Audrey Morris for my Chicago entry; and Boston has Rebecca Parris, who uses her husky lower range to special advantage on modern Brazilian ballads and jazz standards. Like all the great cabaret singers, Parris is part actress, but she downplays that angle in favor of the music, using her upper range and control of dynamics to score small but telling triumphs of interpretation. Throaty and wise, her music can inform and move. One problem with the proprietary situation outlined above, in which each city supports its own chanteuse, is that the vocalists don’t get to visit the other burgs nearly enough; Parris’s two-gig Chicago sojourn concludes tonight, with pianist Brad Williams leading the trio and saxist Ed Petersen sharing the spotlight. Tonight, 9 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 878-5552.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Susan Wilson.