The former wife of Polish jazz violinist Michal Urbaniak, Urszula Dudziak has established her own legacy as a vocalist. Gifted with a four-and-a-half octave voice, she was dubbed "jazz singer of the year" by the Los Angeles Times in 1979. A frequent collaborator of the late Gil Evans in the 1980s, Dudziak's singing was featured on Evans' albums Live at Umbria Jazz '87, recorded at the Italian music festival, and Last Session, recorded with Sting. A featured vocalist for Archie Shepp, Lester Bowie, and Bobby McFerrin in the 1980s, she performed with the Vocal Summit Group along with Jay Clayton, Jeanne Lee, Bobby McFerrin, Norma Winstone, Michele Hendricks, and Lauren Newton in the early '90s. She was a featured soloist for the Vienna Art Orchestra's performance of "Artistry in Rhythm -- A European Suite" in 2000. Dudziak's seven-year-long collaboration with Krzysztof Zawadzki's band, Walk Away, yielded four albums between 1987 and 1994. Working with Koledy Ur and Grazyna Auguscik in 1996, she recorded an album of jazz interpretations of classic Christmas carols.
Studying piano and singing in her homeland since the late '50s, Dudziak became fascinated with jazz after hearing a radio broadcast featuring Ella Fitzgerald in 1959. Meeting Urbaniak in a short-lived jazz band in 1965, she continued to work with the violinist in an electric jazz band the following year. Performing in Scandinavia from 1965 until 1969, they made New York their home in 1974. Incorporating Polish folk, rock, and classical influences into her musical vocabulary since 1967, Dudziak has become known for her unique "wordless" singing style. ~ Craig Harris
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