Grazyna Auguscik | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Grazyna Auguscik 

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Over the last five years, Polish-born vocalist Grazyna Auguscik has proved herself among the most venturesome and versatile of Chicago-based musicians. She's explored new crannies of old standards (Pastels) and classic bossa nova (Fragile), but lately she's been investigating her Polish heritage: on the 2001 stunner River (all albums on her own GMA label), Auguscik delights in the off-kilter meters and busy melodies common to most eastern European folk music, but she also shows off her lovely command of slower tempos and lyrical sweep. The obvious precedent here is the mid-70s jazz fusion of Polish violinist Michal Urbaniak and Urszula Dudziak, the athletic and fearless vocalist who was then his wife, but Auguscik has added klezmer to their mix of folk styles. Her most recent project (unveiled at last year's Chicago Jazz Festival and reprised a month later at the World Music Festival) placed her sinuous, coolly sensuous voice within the context of the Cracow Klezmer Band; the new Past Forward (GMA/JIC Records) returns Auguscik to the embrace of such stellar Chicago sidemen as guitarist John McLean and woodwind whiz Steve Eisen, and also features Jarek Bester of the Cracow Klezmers on accordion. Klezmer leaps to the fore on only two of the album's seven tracks, one of which is Bester's composition "Soul Migration." But the idiom's earthy mystique seeps through on many others, including Auguscik's "Why Me?," a flat-out tango. Klezmer shares the dervish energy and dark melodicism of Polish folk forms, and Auguscik uses it as another subtle spice in her infectious and at times voluptuous music. She'll celebrate the release of Past Forward with the entire cast of the album, including bassist Kelly Sill and drummer Tom Hipskind; a reception featuring traditional Polish refreshments, music, and springtime costumery will precede the concert at 6 PM. Saturday, April 26, 7 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln; 773-728-6000.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.

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