In 1993 Michał Tokaj graduated from the Faculty of Jazz and Light Music at the Katowice Academy of Music, Poland. That year as well he made his stage debut with Kazimierz Jonkisz Quartet. Since 2001 has been a teacher an d instructor with the Fryderyk Chopin Association of Music Schools in Warsaw.
Tokaj has worked with Polish, Czech and American musicians, eg. Ewa Bem, Bennie Maupin, Eddie Hendreson, Jaromir Honzak, and the first Polish singer in Blue Note Records: Agnieszka Skrzypek aka Aga Zaryan. Michał was enthusiastically received at many festivals, Jazz Goes to Town, Jazz Fest Brno, Jazz Jamboree, Poznań Jazz Fair, Jazz on the Odra, Solo Molo Jazz Festival, the Kalisz Jazz Pianists Festival, Jazz on the Old Town. He performed in the USA, Israel, Germany, the Czech Republik, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Lithuania. This resulted in inspiring musical collaborations and, in 2002 receiving a nomination for a “Fryderyki” Award in the jazz musician of the year category. And later on, in 2004, he received a “Fryderyk” Award for the best jazz album of the year: Bird Alone, released by Japanese records publishing Gats Production. Then collaboration with Aga Zaryan (Agnieszka Skrzypek) resulted in collaboration with Blue Note Records. Then Tokaj received his second “Fryderyk” Award in the best composer of the year category. Also Aga Zaryan Umiera Piękno (on which Tokaj performed) won a “Fryderyk” in the category of album of the year – sung poetry.
Michał Tokaj also collaborates on the regular basis with Grzegorz Karnas, and with the quintet of the Czech bass player Jaromir Honzak. They recorded the album Present Past which in 2003 received the “Andel” prize and that of the Czech magazine Harmonie for the best jazz album of the year.
For some time now Michał Tokaj has been leading his own trio with Michał Barański on bass and Łukasz Żyta on drums.
Awards and distinctions
2010: 1st prize, “Fryderyki” Award, the category of the best composer of the year
2004: 1st prize, “Fryderyki” Award, the category of the best jazz musician of the year
1999: 1st individual prize, The International Jazz Improvisation Competition in Katowice.
1997: 1st prize, with the Marcin Żupański band, The Jazz Juniors Festival contest, Cracow, Poland.
1995 1st prize, with Joint Venture, the Jazz Juniors Festival contest, Cracow, Poland.
as a leader
2004: Bird Alone, Michał Tokaj Trio, Gats Production (awarded “Fryderyk”)
as a sideman
2011: A Book of Luminous Things, Aga Zaryan, Michał Tokaj, Larry Koonse, Darek Oleszkiewicz, Munyungo Jackson, Polish Radio Orchestra, Blue Note
2010: Looking Walking Being, Aga Zaryan, Blue Note Records
2008: Early Reflections, The Bennie Maupin Quartet, Cryptogramophone
2007: A Question to All Your Answers, Jaromir Honzák Quartet, Animal Music
2007: Umiera piękno, Aga Zaryan, Michał tokaj, Michał Barański, Łukasz Żyta, Cosmopolis Records (awarded “Fryderyk”)
2006: Ballady na koniec świata, Grzegorz Karnas, Ninth Floor Productions
2004: Sny – The Dreams of a Ninth Floor, Grzegorz Karnas, Ninth Floor Productions
2003: Present Past, Jaromir Honzák Quintet, Indies
2002: My Lullaby, Agnieszka Skrzypek, Not Two Records
Michał Tokaj Trio – Michał Tokaj : piano, Michał Barański: bass, Łukasz Żyta – drums
Michał Tokaj Band (2011)
Radek Nowicki Quartet –
Radek Nowicki: saxophone, Michał Tokaj: piano, Michał Jaros: bass, Michał Miśkiewicz: drums
Aga Zaryan’s projects
Eddie Henderson, Bennie Maupin, Victor Lewis, Monty Waters, Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski, Janusz Muniak, Tomasz Szukalski, Ewa Bem, Henryk Miśkiewicz, Piotr Wojtasik, Piotr Baron, Darek Oleś, Grzegorz Nagórski, Leszek Żądło, Zbigniew Namysłowski, Jaromir Honzák, Agnieszka Skrzypek, Łukasz Żyta, Michał Barański, Grzegorz Karnas, Grażyna Auguścik, Ingrid Jensen, Andrzej Jagodziński, Adam Cegielski, Czesław Bartkowski, Sławomir Kurkiewicz.
Created by: Anna Początek; Jazzarium.pl, Warszawa 2014