License to chill
Nicole Chillemi's Christmas show comes on the heels of a banner year for the enchanting Atlanta jazz vocalist. Chillemi's self-titled first CD, produced by Shawn Mullins, was released last year and began selling briskly at shows and local stores. She soon found herself with an enviable problem that any unsigned artist would love to have — she had to order a second pressing of the disc. Chillemi jokingly refers to her upcoming Java Monkey gig as "a CD re-release party." With businesslike flippancy, she is quick to add, "If they come in on time, they'll make perfect stocking-stuffers."
True to her Sicilian roots, the good-natured chanteuse has a genial way about her that bleeds over into her set. She sings with a knowing wink and a secret smile for everyone in the audience. Like a siren in the court of a world-weary king, Chillemi reinvigorates her genre, embracing every song like a long-lost lover, imbuing the room with her delicate phrasings and dead-on emotional nuance. She's one of the best in her field in Atlanta, doing fresh takes on standards that draw stylistic comparisons to seminal torchbearers Sarah Vaughn and Billie Holiday. She also offers up the occasional unexpected, obscure cover a la Cassandra Wilson and Nina Simone.
Chillemi is also busy preparing for her next CD, which she begins recording in January and should be ready for release next summer.
Nicole Chillemi plays Fri., Dec. 17, 8 p.m., at Java Monkey, 205 Ponce de Leon Ave. (storefront is located on Church Street.) in Decatur. No cover. For more info, call 404-378-5002.