Listening to Sheila Jordan’s songs–the sweet melodies she creates and the meanings in her lyrics–you can’t help feeling that nobody else has ever experienced the emotions she’s singing about. Her harmonies are sophisticated, her technique is skillful, her voice a fine instrument–but the quality she projects is fresh and bracing, like mountain springwater. There are two key elements in Jordan’s music. One is intimacy, something that, amazingly, she offers even when accompanied by big bands, though a sensitive trio or a single accompanist better enhances the unique bends, curves, and leaps in her lines. The other is a sense of wonder; she can discover a vein of melodic delight even in jaded torch songs and can make endless, subtle, infectious play (imagine Charlie Parker’s pet kitten) out of bebop standards. This most satisfying of jazz singer has always been an avant-garde bopper, having worked with Parker, Lennie Tristano, Herbie Nichols, and George Russell among others; she’s also the only jazz singer to have recorded an album of Robert Creeley poem settings. She has a special affinity for bass accompaniments, which is why the presence of the lyrical Kelly Sill at this weekend’s sets is so promising; Brad Williams on piano and Joel Spencer on drums will be her other partners. Tonight, 9 PM, and Saturday, 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 878-5552.

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