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Gayle Kolb

Gayle Kolb had once played some of the plushest clubs in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and her hometown of Chicago. But it wasn't until she had been away from singing for a stretch of years to devote herself to family that she discovered herself as an artist—a jazz artist, which was what she'd always wanted to be.

Having seen the highly regarded Chicago bassist Dennis Carroll in performance and admired his work with singers, Kolb called him out of the blue for advice on reentering the music world-or not. “I knew he would tell me the truth about my singing,” she says. “He would tell me if I should go home. I was ready for that.”

During her afternoon “audition” at his house, Carroll had her sing songs at extended lengths and scat-something she had done very little of. “I wanted to see how much jazz she had in her,” he says. She passed all tests with flying colors. It didn't take him long to make a decision. “We can do a CD,” he told her after seven minutes, by his estimation.

That CD, released to coincide with Kolb's debut at the 2018 Chicago Jazz Festival, is Getting Sentimental, a title that shouldn't be taken at face value. With her low tones and coolly relaxed phrasing, Kolb never settles for easy emotion. “She sells a song without having to do the big dramatic stuff,” says Carroll. “She is a subtler conveyer of story.

“She has real authenticity,” he adds. “She's so unpretentious, it's sometimes hard to convince her how real her talent is.”

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