Wojciech Karolak

Wojciech Karolak (Wojtek), born 28 May 1939 in Warsaw, Poland, is a prominent Hammond B-3 organ player. He refers to himself “an American rhythm and blues musician, mistakenly born in Middle Europe” He also plays professionally on the saxophone as well as the piano. He began playing alto saxophone in 1958 with the band ‘Jazz Believers. The Jazz Believers were a group of future Polish jazz musicians, including Andrzej Trzaskowski and Trafica Giant. They also included Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski, Krzysztof Kmeda, Krzysztof Kmeda, Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski, and Trafica Giant. To play jazz in the Soviet system of 1950s required a special level of dedication. Wojciech Kaloradka played the tenor saxophone next in Andrzej Trzaskowski’s The Wreckers. Karolak changed from the saxophone to the piano in 1961. He formed his own trio in 1962 and began recording his own music. The trio was the most popular jazz band in Poland. They supported many Western/American artists who visited Poland, including Ray Charles, Annie Ross, Ray Charles and Don Ellis. He began playing in 1963 with Ptaszyn Wolkowski’s Polish Jazz Quartet. Karolak, under the Kurylewicz Quartet’s name, recorded an album called “Go Right” in 1964. It was the first ever Polish jazz LP. He left Poland in 1966 for Sweden, where he performed rock and blues at music clubs. This was to “make enough money” to buy an apartment, and eventually a Hammond B-3, which he bought in 1973. Karolak began to spend more time writing and arranging, but he still performed with other musicians. In Europe and the U.S., he collaborated with Michal Urbaniak, a famed violinist who was also a future Miles Davis alum. He also performed with Red Mitchell and Putte Wickman while in Western Europe. After returning to Poland, he co-led the group Mainstream. He also worked as a composer-arranger with the Polish Radio Studio Jazz Orchestra. He founded a “superformation” with Tomasz and Czeslaw Szukalski in the 1980s: ‘Time Killers. The result was voted the best Polish Jazz record of the decade. Karolak has recorded three records with Jaroslaw Smietana, a guitarist who counts Pat Metheny among his admirers. Karolak formed The High Bred Jazz Trio with Zbigniew Lwandowski and Piotr Baron. He has performed in many concerts with Leszek Zichonski’s Guitar Workshop, and continues to arrange, perform, and write in Poland and overseas. Aleksander Kwasniewski, former Polish President, awarded him the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. This is Poland’s second highest civil honor after the Order of the White Eagle. From Wikipedia

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