Petra van Nuis (pronounced Pay-tra van Nouse) is a Chicago-based jazz vocalist who has been described in Downbeat Magazine as having "a light, gorgeous, and fairly delicate voice...a gift for melody and plenty of rhythmic confidence."
A Chicagoan since 2003, Petra sings at all the finest jazz venues in town including the Jazz Showcase, the Green Mill, Andy's Jazz Club, Winter's, Fitzgerald's, the City Winery, and the Old Town School of Folk Music. Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs has presented Petra's groups at the Chicago Cultural Center and Chicago Summer Dance. The Jazz Institute of Chicago has featured Petra's Recession Seven band at the Chicago Jazz Festival and Jazz City. Petra has been interviewed and her music featured on Chicago's WGN for Rick Kogan's "After Hours" show and on WBEZ's "Morning Shift" with Tony Sarabia.
Outside of Chicago, Petra plays at jazz festivals such as the Cleveland Classic Jazz Party, the Roswell Jazz Festival and Joe Boughton's Chautauqua Jazz Party with such renowned musicians as Dan Barrett, Nicki Parrott, Ken Peplowski, John Di Martino, Dan Block, Scott Robinson, Frank Tate, Hal Smith, Rossano Sportiello, and Duke Heitger.
Petra's latest project, Because We're Night People, is a live recording of night-themed standards which was awarded 4 stars by DownBeat Magazine and included in their "Top Rated Albums of 2019" listing. Revered Chicago pianist Dennis Luxion blends his signature impressionistic harmony with Petra's lush vocals. This CD was re-issued in Japan on the Japanese label Muzak in October 2018 and was used as in-flight music on All Nippon Airways (Japan's largest airline) in January/February 2019.
Germany's Jazzpodium Magazine hails Petra's seventeen year musical collaboration with her husband, guitarist Andy Brown, as "a magical musical dialogue, which can only partially be described as blind understanding." Petra and Andy's romantic style has been enjoyed in intimate club settings around the country including Shanghai Jazz (Madison, NJ), the Kerrytown Concert House (Ann Arbor, MI), Night Town (Cleveland,OH), the Saugatuck Center for the Arts (Saugatuck, MI), and the Blue Wisp Jazz Club (Cincinnati, OH). Several European tours have brought the duo to Germany (Traditional Jazz Hall Stuttgart, Jazzhaus Heidelberg, Mampf Frankfurt, Le Pirate, Jazz Club Neustadt, Jazz Club 77, Musikhaus Birlkehof) to the Netherland's (Gorinchem Jazz Festival, Culuurschip Thor, Jazz Hall 72, Stichting Jazz Zevenbergen) and to Belgium (Jazz Cafe Hopper). With the re-release of the duo's 2017 CD Lessons Lyrical and their 2009 CD Far Away Places on Japan's Muzak label, Petra and Andy continue to spread their swinging sounds far and wide.
Petra and Andy often augment their duo with bass and drums forming the Petra van Nuis/ Andy Brown Quartet. In addition to Chicago performances, the quartet frequently tours the Midwest having played for the West Michigan Jazz Society (Grand Rapids, MI), Polyrhytms (Davenport,IA), the Firefly Jazz Club (Ann Arbor, MI), the Wilson Center for the Arts (Milwaukee, WI), the Detroit Institute for the Arts (Detroit, MI), and headlined the 32nd Michelob Women In Jazz Festival (Dayton, OH).
At the start of the Great Recession in September 2008, Petra's Recession Seven, a Chicago-style early swing/trad jazz band was born at Chicago's legendary Green Mill. This seven piece ensemble features an all-star line up of internationally known Chicago veterans including trombonist Russ Phillips, reed man Eric Schneider, and trumpeter Art Davis. Festival appearances include the 32nd Elkhart Jazz Festival, 33rd annual Chicago Jazz Festival, the 34th, 35th, 37th, 40th and 42nd annual Cedar Basin Jazz Festival, Fitzgerald's 29th annual American Music Festival, the Juvae Jazz Society's 25th anniversary Festival, and the Illiana Club of Traditional Jazz's 40th anniversary Jazz Festival. The band regularly travels to regional jazz societies such as the Madison Jazz Society, the Starr-Gennett Foundation, the "Masters of Swing" series at Cincinnati's Xavier University, the Lafayette Jazz Club, and the Indianapolis Jazz Club. The American Rag, in a review of the band's 2011 on location recording Live In Chicago praises "a killer of a band that grabs your attention and doesn't give it back until they are finished playing."
You may have heard selections from Petra's 2006 debut CD A Sweet Refrain on digital cable's Music Choice, where it regularly rotates on the "Singers & Swing" channel. In a review, Los Angeles Jazz Scene critic Scott Yanow notes "a sweet voice, a straightforward delivery....one hears touches of Billie Holiday, Blossom Dearie, and Mildred Bailey in her phrasing, but not in the sound of her voice which is distinctive." This CD is a throwback to the classic vocal recordings of the 50's with a blend of duo, quartet, quintet, and tight two-horn sextet arrangements by bassist/arranger Joe Policastro. In 2012, these arrangements were recreated with the teaming of Petra and Andy with four Canadian musicians at Edmonton's famed Yardbird Suite. In 2015, two songs from this CD were selected by famed Japanese jazz writer/historian/record producer Yasukuni Terashima to be included in the compilation CD For Jazz Vocal Fans Only on the Japanese label Disk Union.
Petra continues to play with Chicago's finest instrumentalists including Bobby Lewis, Art Davis, Kim Cusack, Larry Harris, Greg Fishman, Chris White, Joe Adamik, Joe Policastro, Bob Rummage, Andy Schumm, Jeremy Kahn, Judy Roberts, Phil Gratteau, Don Stille, Dan Delorenzo, Tom Bartlett, Mike Schlick, Bill Overton, Bradley Williams, Ron Dewar, John Otto, Stewart Miller, and Don Stiernberg.» Early Years