So many artists have covered Beatles tunes in so many ways that one might wonder why anyone would bother anymore. What possibly could there be left to say in this music?
Undeterred, Chicago jazz musicians Paulinho Garcia and Grazyna Auguscik have taken on some of the most familiar works in the Beatles catalog on an appealing new album, "The Beatles Nova." Their perspective on this repertoire sounds as fresh as the recording's title implies, the musicians reiterating the point Thursday night at Katerina's.
Audiences in Chicago – and well beyond – already know that the Brazilian-born Garcia brings a seductive rhythmic lilt to nearly everything he sings (and plays on guitar). Auguscik, meanwhile, applies the fervent lyricism of music of her native Poland to a broad range of repertoire.
Over the years, Garcia and Auguscik have formed a partnership unique in contemporary music, two voices from distinct cultures coming together in the precincts of Chicago jazz. With each season, their instruments blend a little more closely, and on Thursday night dual voices merged almost as one.
Better still, Garcia's arrangements transformed the Beatles originals and, in many ways, improved upon them. The familiarity of these songs have made them classics, but Garcia's versions extend their chordal vocabulary far beyond anything the Beatles attempted. Here is Beatles music enriched with the sophistication of jazz harmony, the seductive sway of Brazilian rhythm and other variables.
During their first set at Katerina's, Garcia and Auguscik re-conceived every Beatles tune they touched, leaving enough of the original to render the music recognizable, but altering enough to keep matters interesting.
In "Hey Jude," for instance, Garcia re-imagined the famous melody line from the outset, meanwhile re-harmonizing it, as well. Yet the overall contour of the song remained, a Beatles standard deftly reconfigured for jazz sensibilities. The subtlety of the endeavor showed respect for the original, while the boldness of the conception underscored the fearlessness of the artists. Moreover, the way Garcia and Auguscik fused vocal colors stood as a high point of the evening, the listener virtually unable to pick out individual strands of melody.
Beatles fans may not have envisioned "When I'm 64" as a bossa nova, but Garcia and Auguscik did, and the ebullient results justified the experiment. "Here Comes the Sun" rarely has sounded brighter in vocal tone, and "Blackbird" conveyed plenty of rhythmic snap.
The only problem concerned the consistently dreamy, soft-spoken nature of this music, which became a bit redundant at times, though Heitor Garcia (Paulinho's brother) offered welcome contrast with hand-held percussion.
Overall, this definitely was not a hard day's night.
by Howard Reich Arts Critic Chicago Tribune Music
PAULINHO GARCIA www.paulinhogarcia.com
Born in Belo Horizonte (capital of Minas Gerais, Brazil) Paulinho began his musical career at the age of nine as a singer in a Sunday children's program at his city's principal radio station, Radio Inconfidencia.
In his teens, he performed as a house musician for all the musical programs at the Radio network, Guarany--TV Itacolomy.
He led his own band, Os Agitadores, with whom he recorded his first two albums.
Until his arrival in the U.S. in 1979, Paulinho composed, arranged, produced, and performed jingles for HP Studios. Four of his commercials received national awards.
After moving to Chicago, he performed and recorded two albums with the band Made in Brazil.
In 1991 he founded his own band, Jazzmineiro, whose eponymous 1996 CD received excellent reviews in the Chicago Tribune, Jazziz magazine, the Brazilian Music Review, and The Brazilians.
Paulinho was the recipient of the "Best Jazz Entertainer" Award for the year 2001 by Chicago Music Awards.
His recording "Homage", released in Tokyo on September 2002, was chosen as The Best Vocal CD in Japan for 2002 and was among The Best 20 overall.
Paulinho has performed in many cities throughout the U.S. and abroad; including a six month Tour in Japan with Made in Brazil.
In 2000 and 2001 he toured Poland, Prague and Bratislava with singer Grazyna Auguscik.
Paulinho also performed with saxophonist Greg Fishman (his partner in Two for Brazil). In 2001 they performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, the Singapore Jazz Festival and at the Holland American jazz Cruise. In 2002 they performed in Hong Kong and Bangkok and most recently at the Fujitsu Concord Jazz Festival and throughout various cities in Japan. It was then that Paulinho added Polish singer Grazyna Auguscik and named his new trio Three For Brazil.
In 2003 Two for Brazil played Joe Siegel's Jazz Cruise "Jazz Party at Sea".
His line up for 2004 included a tour of Poland, the Bahamas, as well as performing at one of Japan's largest jazz festivals, Jazz Elite, with Three for Brazil (June 8th thru 21st), a second Jazz Party at Sea" cruise (October 23 thru 30th), and two TV concerts in the Netherlands in November.
In 2005, in addition to many festivals throughout the USA, Paulinho performed in various cities in Poland, The Ukraine and Prague, The Singapore Jazz Festival, Joe Siegel’s jazz cruise to Alaska, another cruise of the Bahamas, and the Bangkok Jazz Festival.
Paulinho was honored as the "Chicagoan of the Year in Jazz, 2010" by the Chicago Tribune. And the "Brazilian Person of the Year, 2010" by the Brazil Club.
Paulinho has released two CDs: a solo CD (Tempo Feliz), and a CD of well known movie songs (Two for Brazil goes to the movies) in an inviting Brazilian style with his duo Two for Brazil.
GRAZYNA AUGUSCIK www.grazynauguscik.com
Singer, composer, arranger, and producer Grazyna Auguscik has won the praise and admiration of music critics, jazz enthusiasts and even non-jazz audiences with a singular voice that speaks a universal language. She is one of the most intriguing contemporary vocalists on today’s world jazz scene. Her elusive style challenges the traditional definitions of jazz and shows a vocalist and musician without boundaries.
Her unorthodox approach to rewriting classic works pays tribute to their authors and at the same time is an adventure into uncharted territory. While her original music gives a fresh taste of uncanny flavor.
She began her professional music career in Europe, and then completed her Studies at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1992. Since then she has become a prolific collaborator sharing the stage with such jazz notables as Michael and Randy Brecker, Jim Hall, Toots Thielemans, John Medeski, Paul Wertico, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Robert Irving III, Michal Urbaniak, Terry Callier, Patricia Barber, John McLean, Jarek Bester, and many others.
Grazyna has recorded, produced and distributed 17 albums, ten of which were under her own record label, GMA Records, and she has appeared as a guest on as many projects. Her album Pastels was chosen One of The Best of 1998 by National Public Radio listeners. Her 2002 release River placed her as one of the hottest young jazz talents in the country.
Grazyna was nominated for Best Female Vocalist of 2002 by the 22nd Annual Chicago Music Awards. And in 2003 Grazyna received a Twirlie Nomination for one of the Top 15 Female Vocalists. She was named Best Jazz Vocalist of 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006 by the prestigious European Jazz Forum Magazine.
In 2002 Fujitsu Concord Jazz Festival awarded her with the TOP VOCALIST title, and the album Homage - Three for Brazil recorded for Pony Canyon Records in Japan was on a TOP 20 JAZZ ALBUMS list in Asia.
Her own release Past Forward, featuring a remarkably talented accordion player Jarek Bester, once again resists easy classification because of its musical eclecticism, but embraces jazz in all its contemporary potential, in the pulsating, exhilarating, eastern musical origins that lead to the past and at the same time give an uncanny impression of wholeness.
“Auguscik may be on the brink of innovation,” says a Chicago Tribune critics review. Find out why the LA Times says "Grazyna Auguscik is doing important work in advancing the potential for imaginative jazz singing. She is a singer to be watched.”
The Grazyna Auguscik Orkestar Universale Project, presented at Millennium Park in Chicago in 2006, received a standing ovation, reaffirming that music can communicate across boundaries of language. Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune said about her performance: “Auguscik and her ensemble sound like nothing else you ever heard; they are out of this world. This must-see performer is one of the best voices to be heard today.”
Her album Andanca, with Brazilian guitarist and vocalist Paulinho Garcia, received a great review in DownBeat Magazine, and enthusiastic play on radio stations around the country and abroad.
Her project and concert "Chopin World Sound" at Millennium Park in Chicago on July 25, 2010 with 14 musicians on stage, gathered an audience of over 10,000 people and was chosen one of the 10 most important performances during the last three decades in the Chicago area, next to Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Wynton Marsalis Septet, Frank Sinatra, Marcus Roberts, Tropicana Orchestra, Danilo Perez, Oscar Brown Jr., and Igor Butman.
Ms. Auguscik’s collaboration as assistant producer for Patricia Barber’s two latest Blue Note recording projects brings to her palette further highly acclaimed worldwide recognition.
Her two European releases "Personal Selection" and "The Beatles Nova" just came out, and her upcoming release… with great expectations… "The Man Behind The Sun" inspired by the poetry of Nick Drake is just around the corner.