Grazyna Auguscik – Chopin World Sound – Musicians: Grazyna Auguscik – vocal, Jarek Bester – accordion, Matt Ulery – bass, Ian Maksin – cello, Paulinho Garcia – guitar and vocal
1st camera Max Helligman
2nd camera Marcin Szocinski
3rd camera Jeremy Jackson
4th camera Slawek Budzik
Cinematogrphy: Marcin Szalkowski
Audio live recording: Ken Christiansen
Video editor: Jeremy Jackson and Matt Rice
Grazyna Auguscik wears dress of fashion designer.Viola Spiechowicz Progressive Bodywear http://www.violaspiechowicz.com/
Recorded live in July 25th 2010, at the Millennium Park in Chicago
Producer: Grazyna Auguscik
Courtesy of GMA Records. Used by permission. . All Rights Reserved.
© 2011 GMA Records
“Yes, Chopin’s Music Can Swing – And Then Some”
MY KIND OF JAZZ
July 26, 2010 | By Howard Reich | Chicago Tribune Arts critic
The music world has been awash with 200th anniversary celebrations of Frederic Chopin’s birth, but surely none as free-wheeling as Sunday’s night’s marathon at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.
An estimated 8,500 listeners heard Chopin’s music radically transformed through jazz, though one hazards to guess that Chopin himself might have reveled in these sounds. His piano music, after all, bristles with the spirit of improvisation, as if the composer had sat down at the keyboard and instantaneously invented some of the most enduring works in the piano repertory. Most of Chopin’s preludes, etudes and nocturnes unfold in utterly unpredictable ways, changing emotional tone at the drop of a sixteenth note — just like jazz.
Though Chopin in fact meticulously honed his compositions, rigorously rewriting and refining passages, the mercurial quality of his music finds eloquent expression in jazz, as Chicago singer Grazyna Auguscik affirmed on this night. Joined by equally adventurous musicians from Chicago, Krakow and beyond, Auguscik illuminated the melodic beauty, harmonic daring and restless spirit of Chopin’s music.
If there were some limitations to how far Auguscik was able to take Chopin’s music, “Grazyna Auguscik’s World Sound” nonetheless expanded the meaning of this repertory.
Born and raised in Poland but based in Chicago since 1994, Auguscik long has applied the smoldering lyricism of Polish music to American jazz. Her voice — sometimes gauzy, sometimes liquid — proves malleable enough to suit music from both cultures.
From her ethereal first notes, she made clear that this was going to be an unconventional evening.
Practically everyone knows Chopin’s Prelude in E minor — it’s the miniature that Jack Nicholson’s character famously played in the 1970 film “Five Easy Pieces.” But the prelude never has sounded quite like this. Auguscik’s wordless vocal lines floated above the deep, darkly burnished tones of the Chicago International Trombone Ensemble, instantly vaulting Chopin into the 21st Century. Then Auguscik cut loose, producing airborne jazz lines powered by aggressive rhythm and daring chord changes.
In one of the more audacious segments of the evening, Auguscik duetted ferociously with Chicago harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy. As Auguscik and Levy traded solos, they pushed each other into ever more remote territory, Auguscik answering the cries of moans Levy’s harmonica with high-register shrieks and yowls of her own. Now Chopin had been catapulted into the realm of the jazz avant-garde, a fitting development for a composer who similarly pushed at the boundaries of 19th Century art music.
Some of the credit for this evening belonged to accordionist Jarek Bester and pianist Andrzej Jagodzinski, whose jazz arrangements brought a nearly symphonic breadth to works originally conceived for piano.
Yet for all the visionary qualities of “Grazyna Augusick’s World Sound,” the singer has not yet figured out how to address Chopin’s long-form works. Extended pieces such as the sonatas, ballads and scherzos, however, tower over the miniatures that Auguscik performed here.
Presumably to address this issue, Auguscik featured Jagodzinski’s trio performing a jazz version of Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2, in B-flat minor. Though Jagodzinski’s band failed to bring a jazz spirit to the first movement and trivialized the last, the trio exceeded expectations in reimagining the middle two movements.
Ultimately, though, this was Auguscik’s night, and with it she clearly launched a new phase of her career. She’ll likely be performing and recording this repertoire for years to come — it’s that important.
To read more from Howard Reich on jazz, go to chicagotribune.com/reich.