A major violinist from Poland, Michal Urbaniak has been versatile throughout his career, mastering several styles from bop and free to fusion and funk. He started on the violin when he was six and soon also learned the tenor and soprano saxophones. Urbaniak studied classical music at the Academy of Music in Warsaw while working with jazz groups. In 1965 he met the innovative singer Urszula Dudziak who became his wife. In 1973 he permanently moved to the United States. Urbaniak headed the group Fusion during 1973-77, collaborated with Larry Coryell during 1982-83, led Urbanator in the 1990s, and is still active today.

1977’s Urbaniak is a creative fusion set that introduced the world class Polish saxophonist Zbigniew Namyslowski, whose alto playing on this early date sometimes sounds a little like David Sanborn. Urbaniak, doubling on a wind synthesizer (the lyricon), teams up with Namyslowski, Urszula Dudziak (who adds otherworldly sounds to the date), keyboardist Kenny Kirkland (a few years before he began working with the Marsalis Brothers), electric bassist Tony Bunn, and drummer Lurenda Featherstone. The colorful music features a unique combination of sounds plus catchy grooves, excellent improvising and strong hints of Eastern European music.

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Michal Urbaniak (born June 22, 1943) is a Polish jazz musician and composer born in Warsaw, playing maninly the violin, lyricon and saxophone during concerts and recordings. He played a central role in the development of jazz fusion in the 1970s and 1980s, and has introduced elements of folk, R&B, hip hop, and symphonic music to jazz.

Additional Info

Additional Info

Format: Jazz Record
Soloist/Artist Michael Urbaniak
Instruments Music and Musicians
Composer No
Accompanist/ Conductor alto sax & flute Zbigniew Namyslowski, voice & percussion Urszula Dudziak, keyboard Kenny Kirkland, electric bass Tony Bunn, drums Lurenda Featherstone
SKU IC1036


Customer Reviews (3)

"Urbaniak At His Best"Review by Big Toots
IC 1036 Urbaniak

Exotic. Intellectual. Electrifying. Pioneering. These are some of the descriptions critics and general listeners have had about the highly-stimulating music of Polish violinist (and multi-instrumentalist), Michal Urbaniak. Recorded in the late 1970s, this eponymously-titled effort offers a witchy cauldron of funk, rock, and uber-jazz that is some of Urbaniak’s best work.

A contemporary music visionary, Urbaniak performs brilliantly here on electric violin and the wind-blown lyricon. He’s more energized and ensemble-driven than another contemporary fiddler, Jean Luc-Ponty. Adding the ungodly vocal textures of his wife, Urzula Dudziak, a vocal-synthesizer if there ever was one, the tone across the session is a firestorm from the start (“Tie Breaker”). The inventive saxophone of Zbigniew Namyslowski and a superb rhythm unit (featuring bassist Tony Dunn and drummer Laurenda Featherstone) add to make this album a hit, if not a classic recording worthy of the stature – and success - of the legendary ensemble, “Weather Report.”

Urbaniak is a most able jazz soloist on his axes. A technical virtuoso and no hoe-down cornballer (although “Stray Sheep” has a C+W whiff), he’s wise to fly fast and hard against the pulsing grooves below. Namyslowski, not particularly well-known outside of Europe, is a perfect foil for the Urbaniaks’ unison syllabicating. His jazz solos are scream-soaring and are always in perfect synchronicity with all that flies around him (“Jasmine Lady,” which has a slight Stevie “Wonderful” taste and “Stray Sheep”). Bassist Dunn has a patent on the funk-pluck groove so commonly heard today (Listen to the exotic “Weird Creatures” and think “Seinfeld”).

“Urbaniak” is a terrific listen – a fusion experience well worth your time to behold.

(Posted on 6/19/2015)
UrbaniakReview by Simon Sez
Jazz fans who think that the violin is not a jazz instrument and that one has to be American in order to play great jazz should definitely listen to Urbaniak. Michal Urbaniak is a violinist who was from Poland. He has since moved to the United States but he was a top player while still in his homeland.

Urbaniak has him playing with another Polish musician, altoist Zbigniew Namyslowski, Kenny Kirkland (remember him from the Marsalises?) on keyboards and the amazing singer Urszula Dudziak. This is fusion from the 1970s that is high quality and full of surprises, very good danceable stuff that also sounds exotic.

Simon Sez: Michael Urbaniak, a very good Polish violinist, plays high quality fusion on Urbaniak (IC 1036) with a group that includes Kenny Kirkland. (Posted on 5/6/2014)
Review by Michael G. Nastos
Enjoy this rare Inner City re-release, featuring seven originals by Urbaniak and sideman Zbigniew Namyslowski.
This album for Inner City Records showcases a much more substantive, energetic, and contemporary type of jazz music perfectly suited for the fusion-oriented '70s.
With wife Urszula Dudziak singing and Zbigniew Namyslowski playing alto sax in a David Sanborn-type dialect, these three form a hummable, tuneful front line whose symmetry and sonic footprint are hard to resist.

Kudos to the Inner City label for issuing this fine effort -- highly recommended without reservation -- on CD so that listeners may relish in its exuberant qualities. (Posted on 6/14/2013)

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