WOMEN WHO SWING--CHICAGO
At century's end, you'd think we'd have left the need for all-girl bands in the dust. But most women still have to play a little bit better than their male bandmates to get the same respect--which means it never hurts to turn a spotlight on their efforts. I can't promise that a devotion to equity inspired Big Chicago Records to compile the new Women Who Swing--Chicago (the label's two previous collections made money, and it doubtless hopes the third will too), but whatever its purpose, the disc functions as a lively reminder of who's doing what on the city's distaff side. It's also the excuse for what promises to be one helluva CD-release event, at which all 13 of the featured artists will perform. Grazyna Auguscik, Patricia Barber, Judy Roberts, and Spider Saloff are four of the city's best-known vocalists; hearing them all in one night would alone justify the price of admission. But any fan of musical smorgasbord knows you really attend for the less familiar entrees: Jackie Allen sings standards and her own strong compositions with unromantic sentiment and rhythmic ease, Audrey Morris brings intelligence to her lyric readings and grace to her piano lines, and Joanie Pallatto teases the edges of her nervy, sometimes extravagant style. Two more singers, Geraldine de Haas and Hinda Hoffman, may represent different generations, but both take a straightforward approach to their music, laying out melodies simply and relying on discretion rather than flamboyance; the same could be said of pianists Kelly Brand and Joan Hickey and bluesy hard-bop saxist Juli Wood. Rounding out the baker's dozen is bassist Marlene Rosenberg, whose resounding tone and terrific solos too often get lost in the back of the bandstand. The program opens with a half-hour video documentary excerpting interviews with each of the artists. Sunday, 6:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln; 773-761-7771. NEIL TESSER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Grazyna Auguscik photo by Michael Jackson.