Urszula Dudziak | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Urszula Dudziak

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Urszula Dudziak leads a band of robots. Where most groups feature a pianist, she uses a harmonizer to turn notes of her voice into full chords and an octave divider to extend her already impressive range of roughly five octaves. Instead of a drummer, she employs a digital-delay unit, with which she can overdub her own voice or juggle the parts to create pulse and polyrhythmic accompaniment. But describing the technological wizardry beggars the real force and artistry of the Polish-born Dudziak, who unfailingly makes something musical out of it all. Although she started as a jazz singer, very little of the jazz tradition remains. Dudziak has moved through both bebop and fusion, merging jazz improvisation with the increasingly exploratory sounds of the classical avant-garde to arrive at a rarefied niche. Her compositions showcase her flexibility with a stunning array of vocal sounds: lyrics are absent as her voice twines with her bank of equipment to become a sort of organic synthesizer. And Dudziak is as much sculptor as she is performer; she chooses and assembles her electronically altered materials to create what are not so much "songs" as sonic constructions--some of them so densely layered that they seem to attain physical mass. Tonight and Saturday, 8:30 PM. and Sunday, 5 PM, Wooden Gallery, 1007 N. Wolcott: 342-2550.

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