Jazz Times writer and Yakima resident Doug Ramsey recently reviewed vocalist Gail Pettis’ new CD on his blog, Rifftides:
Gail Pettis, May I Come In? (OA2). In her recording debut, the Seattle singer chooses a mixture of familiar standards and less-well-known songs, delivering them with warmth and intelligent interpretation. Pettis concentrates on serving songwriters’ intentions, but her delighted treatment of Jimmy McHugh’s “I Just Found Out About Love” includes one of two scatting episodes in the collection. She scats with musicianly understanding of harmony. There is not a lot of that going around among singers. Pettis gives “Black Coffee” its bluesy due but avoids the affected emotion with which many singers are tempted to smother the song.
In “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face,” bassist Jeff Johnson, with his customary strength and sensitivity, is the singer’s sole accompanist. “We’ve Met Before” is a duet between Pettis and pianist Randy Halberstadt. With this lovely song, Halberstadt may have composed a new standard. He and Johnson are on half of the tracks. On the other half, Darin Clendenin is the pianist, Clipper Anderson the bassist, Pacific Northwest stalwarts in good form, as is Mark Ivester, who plays drums throughout. Pettis keeps her considerable vocal power in reserve, using it with restraint and taste. In the burgeoning population of new singers, she is a standout.