On her new CD Don't Let Me Go (GMA) Chicago vocalist Grazyna Auguscik displays a strong and affectless voice, unencumbered by such familiar flavorings as "sweet" or "salty"; she proves her ability to scat solo with precision and design, and she emerges as a true bandleader (as opposed to one of those singers who just seem to step out in front of their accompanists now and then). But two aspects of her music strike me as even more important. First, Auguscik has a rhythmic authority that provides the steel backbone for all her music: it allows her to handle a tricky bop line such as Bud Powell's "Wail" but also the drifting pulse of the movie theme "Rosemary's Baby" (by the late Polish jazzman Krzysztof Komeda), and it almost redeems the occasional sappy lyric that creeps into her repertoire. Nevertheless, Auguscik's repertoire is the other great asset she brings to her music. On her CD she offers vocal versions of several tunes previously heard only as carefully written instrumentals by a host of fine modern jazzmen, including Ron Carter, Kenny Garrett, Mulgrew Miller, and Makoto Ozone. Their compositions, and her own good taste, serve Auguscik's no-frills style perfectly. What's more, they allow the Polish-born Auguscik to present a persona distinct from most other jazz singers: relatively short on sentiment, with an artistic reserve common to postwar eastern Europe, and emphasizing her lean, trim musicality. Her performance celebrates the release of her CD and stars several of the Chicago heavyweights who appear on the album, including guitarist John McLean and bassist Harrison Bankhead. Saturday, 6:30 PM, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 773-235-3232.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by E.P.Shultz.