Pianist, organist, saxophonist, composer, and arranger, born on 28 May 1939 in Warsaw.
On this page we present two articles devoted to Wojciech Karolak - his biographical note written by Anna Iwanicka-Nijakowska in December 2007, and his profile by Marek Romański, acquired in January 2009.
A graduate of Krakow's music secondary school in the piano class, he later studied at the Theory Department of the State Higher School of Music in Krakow.
He debuted as a jazz pianist in 1956 with a Dixieland band he founded. He became an active saxophonist two years later with the band Jazz Believers, whose line-up included Andrzej Trzaskowski, Krzysztof Komeda, and Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski. In 1959-60 he played with Trzaskowski's band The Wreckers, making parallel appearances with the bands of Andrzej Kurylewicz and Jerzy Matuszkiewicz. He gave up the saxophone as a career in 1961, devoting himself exclusively to the piano. With Roman Dyląg and Andrzej Dąbrowski, in 1962 he set up The Karolak Trio, with whom he recorded his first original album. In 1963-66 he worked with Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski's Polish Jazz Quartet. He lived in Sweden between 1966 and 1973, playing in various formations and collaborating with Michał Urbaniak, with whom he performed in countries including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the United States. After returning to Poland, in 1973-78 he was a member of Wróblewski's band Mainstream. He also worked with Czesław Bartkowski, Janusz Muniak, Zbigniew Namysłowski, Tomasz Szukalski, Jarosław Śmietana, and the Polish Radio Jazz Studio.
In 1979 he decided to limit his concert activity and devote his time to composition. He wrote pop and cabaret songs, mostly to lyrics written by his wife, Maria Czubaszek. Larger compositions appeared in the 1980s - suites, film soundtracks and music for theatre productions as well as numerous jazz themes.
He resumed concert activity in 1984, appearing in the trio of Szukalski and Bartkowski. With them, he recorded the LP Time Killers which "Jazz Forum" magazine hailed as the best jazz album of the 1980s. In subsequent years he recorded for Polish Radio as well as foreign record labels. In 1995 he set up The High Bred Jazz Trio with Piotr Baron and Zbigniew Lewandowski. He also collaborated with Leszek Cichoński's band Guitar Workshop. To mark the 40th anniversary of his artistic career, in 1998 he gave a special jubilee concert during the Jazz Jamboree.
In polls held by "Jazz International" magazine he was chosen Europe's top jazz organist in 1973-74, and was many-times winner of "Jazz Forum" magazine's ranking list in the following categories: arranger (1983-86), and organist (1983-88, 1990, and 1992-2001). He received the Mateusz Award (named after Mateusz Święcicki) for life achievement from the music section of Polish Radio's Programme 3.
- Od początku przez środek do końca / From Start Through Middle to End, suite
- Uwertura makabryczna - Zamczysko w Otranto / Macabre Overture - Castle in Otranto
- Dracula, musical
- Soundtrack for the film Konopielka (dir. W. Leszczyński)
- Soundtrack for the film Filip z konopi (dir. J. Gębski)
- Soundtrack for the TV series Przyłbice i kaptury (dir. M. Piestrak)
- Music for the play The Decameron
- Music for the play Ubu Rex
- Songs, including Ballada o spełnionych dniach, Każdy as bierze raz, Krótki metraż, Miłość jest jak niedziela, Wyszłam za mąż, zaraz wracam
Author: Anna Iwanicka-Nijakowska, December 2007.
He made his debut with the piano in 1956 while performing jazz trio in the Nowodworskiego Liceum playing with Roman Dyląg, Andrzej Dąbrowski, Jan Byrczek, Andrzej Piela and Ryszard Rushil.
In February 1958 as alto saxophonist he entered into cooperation with the band Jazz Believers with such performers as Andrzej Trzaskowski, Krzysztof Komeda
and Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski
. He also played the tenor saxophone in the group The Wreckers of Andrzej Trzaskowski.
In 1961 he resigned from playing the saxophone and devoted his time to the piano in the Quartet of Andrzej Kurylewicz
. One year later, together with Roman "Gucio" Dyląg and Andrzej Dąbrowski he created his own trio The Karolak Trio with whom he recorded his first author record.
In 1963 he started working with the group Ptaszyn Wróblewski Polish Jazz Quartet and three years later he went to Sweden in order to perform jazz in clubs and restaurants because he wanted to earn to buy Hammond. He also cooperated with Michał Urbaniak
In 1973 he bought Hammond organ B-3. From 1973 till 1978 he cooperated with the band Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski Mainstream. In the 80-ties he created together with Tomasz Szukalski and Czesław Bartkowski
the superformation Time Killers, with whom in 1984 he recorded record published by Helicon Records Karolak, Szukalski, Bartkowski "Time Killers"
. In the 90-ties he worked with Jarosław Śmietana
with whom he recorded three albums. In 1995 together with Piotr Baron
and Zbigniew Lewandowski he created The High Bred Jazz Trio. What is more, he performed hundreds of concerts as a member of Leszek Cichoński Guitar Workshop.
In 1998 he celebrated 40 years of artistic work. As a result, he played special jubilee concert at the Jazz Jamboree Festival
He recorded on the soundtracks of Witold Leszczyński's movie Konopielka
and Niech żyje miłość
directed by Ryszard Ber.
Jazz Believers together with Andrzej Trzaskowski, Krzysztof Komeda and Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski among others, The Karolak Trio with Roman "Gucio" Dyląg and Andrzej Dąbrowski, Time Killers with Tomasz Szukalski and Czesław Bartkowski, The High Bred Jazz Trio with Piotr Baron and Zbigniew Lewandowski, Guitar Workshop with Leszek Cichoński.
- Jazz Believers (RCA Victor, 1957)
Krzysztof Komeda - piano
Roman Dyląg - double bass
Wojciech Karolak - alto saxophone
Jan "Ptaszyn" Wróblewski - tenor saxophone
Jan Zylber - percussion
- Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski - Polish Jazz Quartet (Muza, 1964)
Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski - tenor sax
Wojciech Karolak - piano
Juliusz Sandecki - bass
Andrzej Dąbrowski - drums
- Michał Urbaniak Constellation - In Concert (Muza, 1973)
Michał Urbaniak - electric violin
Urszula Dudziak - voice, percussion
Wojciech Karolak - Hammond organ, Farfisa
Czesław Bartkowski - drums
Adam Makowicz - Fender piano, Fender bass
- Karolak, Szukalski, Bartkowski - Time Killers (Helicon Records, 1984)
Wojciech Karolak - Polysix synthesizer (Korg), Crumar T-2 organize
Tomasz Szukalski - tenor sax
Czesław "Mały" Bartkowski - drums
- Jarek Śmietana & Wojtek Karolak - Phone Consultations (Gowi, 1996)
Jarek Śmietana - guitar
Wojtek Karolak - Hammond organ
Adam Czerwiński - percussion
Tomasz Szukalski - tenor sax
Author: Marek Romański, January 2009.