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Petra's Recession Seven
Petra’s Recession Seven is a seven piece jazz band formed by vocalist Petra van Nuis during the Great Recession of 2008. When the recession hit and venues began downsizing to smaller groups, slashing pay, and/or cutting live music altogether, things looked grim. Somehow, despite the financial situation, Petra decided to think big. She assembled the fantastic all-star line-up of internationally known Chicago veterans and the band was born at a debut performance at Chicago’s legendary Green Mill.
The traditional/swing music they specialize in seemed to strike a chord, and the band was an instant hit! Growing steadily in popularity, Petra’s Recession Seven continues to be heard around Chicago at such top venues as the Jazz Showcase, Katerina's, the Green Mill, Andy's, and Fitzgerald’s. Performance highlights include the 33rd annual Chicago Jazz Festival, The Cedar Basin Jazz Festival, Fitzgerald’s renowned American Music Festival, and several regional jazz societies including the Madison Jazz Society, Illiana Club of Traditional Jazz, and the Indianapolis Jazz Club. The band just released their new CD "Live In Chicago" which was recorded on location at their monthly gig at Katerina's.
With the formation of the Recession Seven, Petra van Nuis wanted to pay homage to several of her favorite singers including Billie Holiday, Mildred Bailey, Connie Boswell, Maxine Sullivan, and her inspiration, while living in New York City, the recently deceased Barbara Lea. Petra and her husband, guitarist Andy Brown, high school sweethearts who met at Cincinnati's School for the Creative and Performing Arts, arrived in Chicago via NYC in 2004. In addition to duo gigs at venues throughout Chicagoland, recent performance highlights include two European tours and the Chautauqua Jazz Party. Andy, who learned his trade at the feet of Cincinnati guitar greats Cal Collins and Kenny Poole, is sought out by many Chicago band leaders including Russ Phillips, Don Stiernberg, and Kimberly Gordon. Annually, Andy and Howard Alden team up for a two-guitar quartet in Chicago. Andy has also accompanied visiting artists Harry Allen, Ken Peplowski, and Hod O Brien.
Originally from Chicago, Bob Ojeda's early experience was with Big Bands, including Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Ralph Marterie, and Les Elgart. His experience varies widely from the rock show Hair in the early 70's to performing with The Rolling Stones in 1975. His music writing projects include television: The Tonight Show and The Midnight Special. In the 80's Bob performed with Hank Jones, Thad Jones, Frank Rosolino, Bill Holman, Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughn, and Peggy Lee. Bob had a long stint with The Count Basie Orchestra from 1985 through 2001. Bob performed on all Basie CDs during this time, including arranging for Diane Shuur and George Benson. One of the highlights of this period was backing Frank Sinatra with the Basie Orchestra. Bob has had symphonic pieces performed by the Dallas, Detroit, and Indianapolis symphony orchestras. A concerto for combined jazz and symphonic orchestras (80 piece) was commissioned through a private grant, then recorded at Mandel Hall at the University of Chicago campus.
The son of Russ Phillips, Sr., who replaced Jack Teagarden with the Louis Armstrong All-Stars, trombonist Russ Phillips is well known and respected around Chicago and on the jazz festival circuit picking up where his father left off. His festival appearances include Elkhart Jazz Festival, the Atlanta Jazz Party, the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, Sweet and Hot Fest, and the San Diego Jazz Festival, to name a few. Russ has recorded under his own name with the Windy City All-Stars, with the late cornetist Tom Saunders, and with the John Sheridan Dream Band. Married to Jeannie Lambert, he has also accompanied this noted songbird on recordings.
Kim Cusack may be considered the elder statesman of the band. His playing career with the Salty Dogs dates back to 1958! Kim has been on over 40 recordings and has played with legends Georg Brunis, Turk Murphy, Wild Bill Davison, Gene Mayl, and Ernie Carson. He continues to play with Russ Phillips’ Windy City All-Stars, Bob Schulz’s Frisco Jazz Band, James Dapogny's Chicago Jazz Band, the Red Rose Ragtime Band and the Chicago Cubs Dixieland Band (though he hasn’t helped them win a pennant).
The Cincinnati connection extends to Joe Policastro, every singer's favorite bassist, who left the Queen City in 2002. After a year in Berlin, Joe settled into the Chicago jazz scene both as a freelance musician and as as founder/composer/arranger of Jeru, a piano-less quartet reminiscent of the Gerry Mulligan-Chet Baker association. He also co-leads and arranges for the Mulligan Mosaics Nonet. In addition, Joe and has played with jazz luminaries Jeff Hamilton, Howard Alden, Cal Collins, and John von Ohlen.
Director of percussion at Elmhurst College and Professor of Jazz at DePaul University’s School of Music, drummer Bob Rummage keeps a busy schedule accompanying many of the stars who come to town to play Chicago's Jazz Showcase. He has backed jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy DeFranco, Benny Golson, Nat Adderly and Clark Terry, among others. He has also performed with the Glenn Miller, Woody Herman and Jimmy Dorsey “ghost” bands.
Many have asked Petra, “What will you do when the recession is over? The band’s name is cute, but it is quite topical and we surely hope the band continues long after the recession ends.” This is when Petra smiles and reminds them that whatever happens to the economy in general, the jazz recession continues! And they play on....
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