Michał Urbaniak

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Michał Urbaniak
Michał Urbaniak, Kraków, 2011.jpg
Michał Urbaniak in Cracow (2011)
Background information
Born (1943-01-22) 22 January 1943 (age 73)
Warsaw, Poland
Genres Jazz, jazz fusion, funk, hip hop
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Violin, lyricon, saxophone
Labels Ubx
Associated acts Urbanator, Miles Davis, UrbSymphony
Website www.urbaniak.com
Michał Urbaniak (violin) on 13th edition of "Jazz na Starówce" festival (2007)

Michał Urbaniak (born January 22, 1943) is a Polish jazz musician who plays violin, lyricon, and saxophone. His music includes elements of folk music, rhythm and blues, hip hop, and symphonic music.


Urbaniak started his music education during high school in Łódź, Poland, and continued from 1961 in Warsaw in the violin class of Tadeusz Wroński. Learning to play on the saxophone alone, he first played in a Dixieland band, and later with Zbigniew Namysłowski and the Jazz Rockers, with whom he performed during the Jazz Jamboree festival in 1961. After this, he was invited to play with Andrzej Trzaskowski, and toured the United States in 1962 with the Andrzej Trzaskowski band, the Wreckers, playing at festivals and clubs in Newport, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, and New York City.

After returning to Poland, he worked with Krzysztof Komeda's quintet (1962–1964). Together, they left for Scandinavia, where, after finishing a couple of contracts, Urbaniak remained until 1969. There he created a band with Urszula Dudziak and Wojciech Karolak, which gained considerable success and was later to be the starting point for the Michał Urbaniak Fusion.

After Urbaniak returned to Poland and the violin (which he abandoned for the saxophone during the time in Scandinavia), he created the Michał Urbaniak Group, to which he invited, among others, Urszula Dudziak (vocals), Adam Makowicz (piano), Pawel Jarzebski - bass and Czeslaw Bartkowski - drums They recorded their first international albums, Parathyphus B, Instinct and played in many festivals, including Jazz Jamboree in 1969–1972. During the Montreux '71 festival, Urbaniak was awarded "Grand Prix" for the best soloist and received a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston. After many triumphant concerts in Europe and the United States, 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 a U.S. citizen.

Despite 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 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. With this band Urbaniak recorded another album for Columbia in New York: Atma.

Urbaniak followed his musical journey with innovative projects such as Urbanator (the first band to fuse rap & hip-hop in jazz),[citation needed], Urbanizer (a project with his band and four-piece R&B vocal group, 1978) and UrbSymphony. On January 27, 1995, UrbSymphony performed and recorded a concert with a rapper and a 60-piece symphony orchestra.

Since 1970 Urbaniak has been playing a his custom-made, five-string violin furnished especially for him, a violin synthesizer called "talking" violin; soprano, alto and tenor saxophones; and lyricon, electric saxophone-like horn. His fusion with a hint of folklore was becoming popular among American jazz musicians. He started to play in well known clubs such as the Village Vanguard and Village Gate, in famous concert halls such as Carnegie Hall, Beacon Theatre, and Avery Fisher Hall.

Urbaniak has played with Billy Cobham, Buster Williams, Chick Corea, Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Joe Zawinul, Kenny Barron, Larry Coryell, Lenny White, Marcus Miller, Quincy Jones, Ron Carter, Roy Haynes, Wayne Shorter, and Weather Report. In 1985, he was invited to play during the recording of Tutu with Miles Davis.

In 2012, he acted in the Polish film My Father's Bike.[1]


  • Urbaniak's Orchestra (1968)
  • 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)[2]
  • Super Constellation (and Constellation in Concert) (1973)
  • Polish Jazz (1973)
  • Atma (1974)
  • Fusion (1974)
  • Journey by Arif Mardin (Atlantic, 1974)
  • Funk Factory (1975)
  • Fusion III (EMI, 1975)
  • Body English (1976)
  • The Beginning (Catalyst, 1976)
  • Urbaniak (Inner City, 1977)
  • Ecstasy (1978)
  • Music for Violin and Jazz Quartet (1980)
  • Serenade for the City (1980)
  • My One and Only Love (SteepleChase, 1982)
  • Recital with Władysław Sendecki (1983)
  • New York Five at the Village Vanguard (1989)
  • Songs for Poland (Ubx, 1989)
  • Milky Way, Some Other Blues, Mardin (1990)
  • Cinemode (Rykodisc, 1990)
  • Songbird (SteepleChase, 1991)
  • Burning Circuits, Urban Express, Manhattan Man (1992)
  • Urbanator (1993)
  • Code Blue (1996)
  • Urbanator II (1996)
  • Urbaniax (1998)
  • Ask Me Now (SteepleChase, 1999)
  • Fusion (1999)
  • Sax, Love & Cinema (2001)
  • I Jazz Love You (Ubx, 2004)
  • Urbanator III (2005)
  • Jazz Legends No. 1 (2006
  • Jazz Legends No. 2 (2007)
  • Jazz Legends No. 3 (2008)
  • Jazz Legends Box (all 3 records-2008)
  • Miles of Blue - 2CD (2009)

With Larry Coryell

With Miles Davis

With Oliver Nelson


External links[edit]