Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Grazyna Auguscik & Paulinho Garcia - Andanca (GMA Records, 2008)

Grażyna Auguścik - vocals

Paulinho Garcia - vocals, guitar, percussion

Matt Ulery - bass
Heitor Garcia - percussion (2, 5, 12)
Geraldo de Oliveira - percussion
Stefan Petterson - bass guitar, percussion, keyboard (14)
Howard Levy - harmonica (5, 12)
Janusz Muniak - saxophone (8)
DAFO String Quartet -
Justyna Duda - violin
Danuta Augustyn - violin
Aneta Dumanowska - viola
Anna Armatys - cello

Andanca (GMA Records, 2008)

The two leaders on this date are hardly newcomers to the Chicago Jazz scene. Paulinho Garcia is well known for his solo work and for his playing with Greg Fishman in Two For Brazil. Grazyna Auguscik has put out some wonderful albums on her own, as well as being featured on the CDs of various Chicago heavyweights. Andanca finds these two together for an album of mostly Brazilian songs with a fantastic backing band and some very tasty string arrangements. 

When I first got this album, I have to admit that I didn't know what to think about it. Granted, both Paulinho Garcia and Grazyna Auguscik are top-notch vocalists, and Garcia's guitar skills are amply evident throughout a growing catalog featuring his work. However, one could be left to wonder how two such singular artists would work together. Well, I had no need for worry. These two blend together wonderfully as singers, and the instrumental backdrop that they sing against is supportive, grooving and sensitive to the intimate setting which makes this album such a success.

To put it frankly, this is one of the best executed albums that I've heard in a long time. The pacing, song choice and timbres of this album are breathtaking. Even the string section here is more than mere window dressing. The arrangements actively add to the proceedings, giving these songs added weight and momentum, and making this group sound entirely unique.

While this album is listenable from first track to last, there are a few real standout tracks here which help this CD to cross the line between "great" and "really, really great."

"Andanca," the title track from this CD is a beautiful mid-tempo tune that is as gorgeous for the melody as it is for the way that Paulinho and Grazyna interpret it. "O Boto" boasts a grooving bass line that propels it nicely. "Nothing Will Be As It Was" is practically the textbook definition of pretty. The strings provide the perfect backdrop for this song, leaving the spotlight firmly on Auguscik and Garcia for a beautiful effort.

This is the kind of album that I really look forward to hearing: a bit off the beaten path, beautifully executed, great tunes that haven't been done to death, played with elan and grace by great musicians. Andanca has all of that, and more, in spades. 

Track listing: 1. Andança; 2. Bala com bala; 3. Gdy wybierać jeszcze mogłam; 4. Consaloção; 5. Casa forte; 6. Falando de amor; 7. O boto; 8. So nice / Summer samba / Chciałabym; 9. Photograph / Fotografia; 10. Nothing Will Be As It Was; 11. Spoza nas; 12. Mixing; 13. Viola enluarada; 14. Prelude e-min / How insensitive / Pradizer Adeus

By Paul Abella

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