Grazyna Auguscik / Grazyna

River

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Her voice has a distinctive sound and style, and her choice of tunes spans genres, so it is not surprising that Polish-born vocalist Grazyna Auguscik has made a bit of a name for herself in the active Chicago jazz scene. Like contemporary Patricia Barber, another word sculptor from the Windy City, Auguscik defies pigeonholing, and as with Barber, her voice emanates a dark, brooding quality that is quite unlike any other. Ultimately, Auguscik's sound will not appeal to everyone, with its slightly off-beat qualities and odd harmonies. One thing in her favor: a compatible band, with first-rate performers such as accordionist Jarek Bester, who solos beautifully on "Bachianas Brasileiras," and local mainstays bassist Eric Hochberg and guitarist John McLean. While Auguscik has been criticized for occasional problems with intonation, her pitch is on target here, and her sense of rhythm extraordinary. On "Cego Aderaldo," for example, she scats with a relaxed confidence that reminds the listener of the remarkable facility of Portuguese vocalist Maria Joao. One of the exciting aspects of Auguscik's singing is her willingness to take chances. She leaps across intervals, repeats phrases, and puts her entire self into her songs. The results sometimes charm and more often challenge, auguring well for the future of jazz singing. She points in an uncharted direction that takes nothing for granted, as little sounds mix with soft subtlety and poetic lyrics to achieve something just different enough to raise a few eyebrows.

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