July 25, 2010

Michal Urbaniak

Although Mike is well respected in the suit and tie expensive $50 dollar drink miniumum joints, those in the know would know that the guy is most loved for his early seventies funk fusion vulgarities.After Urbaniak returned to Poland and the violin (which he abandoned for the saxophone during the time in Scandinavia), he created the self-named "Michał Urbaniak Group", to which he invited, among others, Adam Makowicz (piano) and Urszula Dudziak (vocals). They recorded their first international album, Parathyphus B, and played on many festivals, including Jazz Jamboree in 1969–1972. During the Montreux'71 festival, Urbaniak was awarded "Grand Prix" for the best soloist and scholarship by the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. After many triumphant concerts in Europe and the USA, in May 1973 he played for the last time before a Polish audience and emigrated with Urszula Dudziak on September 11, 1973, to the United States, where he now lives as US citizen.

In spite of getting an award from Berklee, he did not study there. Recommended by John H. Hammond, Urbaniak signed a contract with Columbia Records, who published the west-German album Super Constellation under the name Fusion. For the promotion tour, he invited Polish musicians, including Czesław Bartkowski, Paweł Jarzębski, and Wojciech Karolak. In 1974, Urbaniak formed the band Fusion, and introduced melodic and rhythmic elements of Polish folk music into his funky New York based music.

Since 1970, Urbaniak is playing on a custom-made, five string violin furnished especially for him, violin synthesizer called "talkin'" violin, soprano, alto and tenor saxophones and on lyricon (electric sax-like horn). His fusion with a hint of folklore was becoming popular among the leaders of American jazz, and also provided opportunity for many new musicians (Harold Williams, Steve Jordan, Marcus Miller, Kenny Kirkland, Omar Hakim, and Victor Bailey. He started to play in well known clubs such as Village Vanguard and Village Gate, in famous concert halls such as Carnegie Hall, Beacon Theatre, and Avery Fisher Hall. In this period he played with such stars as Weather Report, Freddie Hubbard, Elvin Jones, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, George Benson, and Billy Cobham.

Urbaniak has invited and has been invited by many other well known jazz stars, including Lenny White, Wayne Shorter, Marcus Miller, Joe Zawinul, Ron Carter, Kenny Barron, Buster Williams and Quincy Jones. In 1985, he was invited to play during the recording of Tutu with the father of fusion, Miles Davis. Davis is reported to have said on this occasion: "Get me this fucking Polish fiddler, he's got the sound!"

Paratyphus B (1970)
Inactin (1971)
New Violin Summit (with Don "Sugarcane" Harris, Jean-Luc Ponty, Nipso Brantner, Terje Rypdal, Wolfgang Dauner, Neville Whitehead, Robert Wyatt) (1972)[1]
Super Constellation (and Constellation In Concert) (1973)
Polish Jazz (1973)
Atma (1974)
Fusion (1974)
Funk Factory (1975)
Fusion III (1975)
Body English (1976)
Urbaniak (1977)
Ecstasy (1978)
Music For Violin And Jazz Quartet (1980)
Serenade for The City (1980)

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