Pianist, saxophonist, composer, and arranger, born on 5 November 1941 in Radzyń Podlaski.
Pianist, saxophonist, composer, and arranger; he has created music for film and theatre and received many awards for his contributions to jazz.
My much older sister used to have boyfriends when I was a little boy. And it was her fiancée and future husband who was the founder of Jazz magazine. He was an engineer but he had one of the biggest disc collections in Poland at that time. These were vinyls, not those long plays but the 67 RPM kind, where you had only one track on each side. He had loads of them and it was the most beautiful music for a kid like me, who would never listen to very modern sounds. Instead he had [Duke] Ellington, [Erroll] Garner, [Oscar]Peterson and I listened to them before I could even walk!
This is how Włodzimierz Nahorny recalled his first contact with jazz in an interview conducted by Karolina Kolinek. He studied clarinet at the State Higher School of Music in Sopot. When he was still a student, in 1959 he founded his own band, the Little Four quartet. He started performing with the North Coast Combo the same year, working with the band for 2 years, and was the clarinettist in a traditional jazz group called the Tralabomba Jazz Band. He played with the Baltic Philharmonic orchestra as well. In 1962 he debuted at the Jazz Jamboree festival in Warsaw as a soloist - playing the saxophone in Jan Tomaszewski's big band. From then on, he appeared at the festival many times for almost 15 years, mainly with Andrzej Trzaskowski's sextet (1962-77).
As a pianist, he worked with the bands of Ryszard Kruza and Alojzy Musiał (1963-64). He founded his own trio in 1965, which gave its first performance at the Jazz on the Odra River festival in Wrocław and won first prize, while Nahorny himself won the individual first prize and a special mention for his composition Zbyszek. He won second prize at the International Modern Jazz Competition in Vienna in 1966, and in 1967 at the 6th Amateur Jazz Festival in Vienna, Duke Ellington presented him with the individual first prize and the second prize for his trio. He was twice a prize-winner of the National Festival of Polish Song in Opole - receiving the Minister of Culture and Art's prize in 1972 for the composition Jej portret, and first prize at the Premieres concert in 1973 for Tango z różą w zębach. His work as a pianist, saxophonist, flutist, bass player, and arranger saw him collaborating with musicians such as Andrzej Kurylewicz, Krzysztof Sadowski, Andrzej Trzaskowski, and Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski, vocalists Marianna Wróblewska and Łucja Prus, the bands Novi Singers and Breakout, and the Polish Radio Jazz Studio. He has performed in many different countries, including Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Yugoslavia, Norway, Hungary, and the former Czechoslovakia and Soviet Union. In an interview conducted by Konrad Wojciechowski, Nahorny said:
The piece was written as an instrumental one. The lyrics came much later and no one ever expected it to become such a big hit! Boguś Mec [Bogusław Mec] who became famous when he recorded Jej portret / Her Portrait was totally unknown at that time. I offered this song to Jerzy Połomski but he declined to sing it.
He has composed music for film and theatre as well as numerous songs, including one of the most popular Polish ballads, Jej portret. An extremely versatile artist, he has enjoyed combining jazz with classical music to create a whole new quality - contemporary music drawing inspiration from many styles and genres. He has recorded a series of albums entitled Fantazja Polska with jazz interpretations of works by Karol Szymanowski (Mity / Myths, 1997), Fryderyk Chopin (Nahorny - Chopin. Fantazja polska / Nahorny - Chopin. Polish Fantasia, 2000), and Mieczysław Karłowicz (Nahorny gra Karłowicza / Nahorny Plays Karłowicz, 2000). The Baltic Opera in Gdańsk staged the premiere of a ballet performance entitled Fantazja Polska / Polish Fantasia in March 2003. At the end of 2018, the latest album of Nahorny Trio (Mariusz Bogdanowicz – bass, Piotr Biskupski – drums) was released. Ballad Book: Okruchy Dzieciństwa (Ballad Book: Bits of Childhood) consists of eleven ballads by Włodzimierz Nahorny. It is a sentimental journey to his youth and his hometown.
Włodzimierz Nahorny is a lecturer at the Department of Jazz and Stage Music at the Stanisław Moniuszko Academy of Music in Gdańsk. In 2012, he was awarded the academic title of Professor of Musical Arts.
In 2000, he was awarded the Fryderyk Music Award as jazz musician of the year, and a year later he received the honorary Golden Fryderyk. He has also been honoured several times for his input into the Polish culture by the state authorities, which rewarded him with, among others, the Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta (2011).
Little Four quartet
North Coast Comb
Tralabomba Jazz Band
- Soundtrack for the film Dzień oczyszczenia / The Day of Purification (dir. J. Passendorfer)
- Soundtrack for the film Pełnia / Full Moon (dir. A. Kondratiuk)
- Soundtrack for the film Rewizja osobista / Personal Search (dir. A. Kostenko, W. Leszczyński)
- Soundtrack for the film Sam na sam / Face to Face (dir. A. Kostenko)
- Soundtrack for the film Z tamtej strony tęczy / On the Other End of the Rainbow (dir. A. Piotrowski)
- Soundtrack for the film Zapach psiej sierści / Smell of the Dog's Fur (dir. J. Batory)
- Soundtrack for the film Znaki na drodze / Signs on the Road (dir. A. Piotrowski)
- Songs: Dobranoc snom; Jak mało, jak dużo potrzeba; Jej portret; Pokoje rozstań; Popłynę łódką; Pytam zimowych gwiazd; Tango z różą w zębach; Żaba story
- Seant (1966) - with Andrzej Trzaskowski and Ted Curson
- Andrzej Kurylewicz Quintet: Ten + Eight (1967)
- Nahorny Trio: Heart (1967)
- Jazz Studio Orchestra of Polish Radio (1969) - with Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski
- Breakout: Na drugim brzegu tęczy (1969)
- Breakout: 70A (1970)
- Sound of Marianna Wróblewska (1972)
- Koncert Podwójny na 5 Solistów i Orkiestrę (1972) - with Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski
- Jej portret (1973)
- Rien ne va plus (1973) - with Novi Singers
- Nowe Twarze - Nowe Głosy (1976)
- Feelings (1978) – with Marianna Wróblewska
- Privilege (1988) - with Marianna Wróblewska
- Obejmij mnie (1991)
- Ich Portret (1995) - with Krzysztof Woliński
- Piosenki lwowskie (1996)
- Mity (1997)
- Nahorny - Chopin: Fantazja polska (2000)
- Dolce far niente... i nic więcej (2002)
- Nahorny - Karłowicz: Koncert (2002)
- Śpiewnik Nahornego (2003)
- Cicho, cicho pastuszkowie (2007)
- Pogadaj ze mną (2008)
- Nahorny Sextet - Chopin Genius Loci (2010)
- Nahorny Trio - Hope (2014)
- Nahorny Trio - Ballad Book - Okruchy dzieciństwa (2018)
Originally written in Polish by Anna Iwanicka-Nijakowska, December 2007; updated by MG, 2019.