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MICHAL URBANIAK

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Poland


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Michal Urbaniak picture
Michal Urbaniak biography
"As a boy prodigy violinist, I played many recitals and concerts with philharmonic orchestras. I took part in competitions for adults and was awarded a scholarship to study in Moscow with the famous David Ojstrach. At the same time I fell in love with American Jazz along with it's culture and a passion for this other musical life began to emerge. One might say that after I began to play Jazz I felt as though a second musical identity came to being. Dr. Jekyll was the straight A student in music school practicing intensely everyday until the afternoon. After which Mr. Hyde would appear experimenting with the new sound of Jazz at local clubs and bars. I dreamed of a time in my life when these two musical identities of mine could be combined somehow.

However, much time passed before my dream could become a reality. I made a promise to my mother that I would not take that scholarship for violin in Moscow. I put the violin aside altogether and began traveling the world as a young saxophonist. I left Poland for good knowing that playing with promising young musicians who played real American Jazz there is more to learn than anywhere in Europe, at least at that time. So I finally came to live in the New York I dreamed of for years and the victory was sweet.

Eight years after I thought I had given up the violin for good I dusted it off and arduously began to teach it to play Jazz as I had done with the saxophone. As a jazz violinist I started a band in which I began connecting the music of my youth and all my experiences of jazz, rock and funk. I was never indifferent to what I heard around me and that is how Fusion came to exist. The experimentation of many musical elements and seeing how they can be used to compliment and ignite each other was fascinating. In New York I discovered a group of incredible young musicians from Jamaica Queens whose innocence, passion, professionalism and profound precision enabled this experimentation to take place. After playing Fusion for a while my music began to evolve further into Acid Jazz; combining the melodic soul of Jazz with the then very fresh beats of Hip hop.

Shortly after the release of Urbanator I felt the need to introduce my classical roots to the new sound of Hip Hop. An official meeting of both loves was due. So, on 27th of January 1995, for the first time in the history of music, a rapper preformed with a philharmonic orchestra. That day I had proved to myself that which I knew always to be...
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UrbaniakUrbaniak
Inner City 2008
Audio CD$10.59
$29.75 (used)
Fusion IIIFusion III
Wounded Bird Records 2012
Audio CD$8.17
$8.98 (used)
FusionFusion
Remastered
Sony 1998
Audio CD$21.96
$19.22 (used)
EcstasyEcstasy
Brownstone Records 2011
Audio CD$15.99
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MICHAL URBANIAK discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MICHAL URBANIAK top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 5 ratings
Inactin
1971
4.00 | 2 ratings
Paratyphus B
1972
4.00 | 2 ratings
Super Constellation
1973
4.25 | 4 ratings
Atma
1974
4.07 | 9 ratings
Fusion
1974
3.36 | 9 ratings
Fusion III
1975
3.43 | 9 ratings
Body English
1976
4.00 | 5 ratings
Urbaniak
1977
3.00 | 2 ratings
Ecstasy
1978
3.50 | 4 ratings
Heritage
1978
2.00 | 2 ratings
Urban Express
1979
0.00 | 0 ratings
Serenade For The City
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
My One And Only Love
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
Facts Of Life (as Urbaniak Coryell Band)
1983
0.00 | 0 ratings
Take Good Care Of My Heart
1984
0.00 | 0 ratings
Cinemode
1988
0.00 | 0 ratings
Songs For Poland
1989
0.00 | 0 ratings
Songbird
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
Manhattan Man
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
Some Other Blues
1994
0.00 | 0 ratings
Urbanator
1994
2.00 | 1 ratings
Urbanator II
1996
0.00 | 0 ratings
Code Blue
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
Decadence (soundtrack)
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
UrbSymphony
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
Urbanizer
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
I Jazz Love You
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sax Love
2005
0.00 | 0 ratings
Polish Wind
2005
0.00 | 0 ratings
Miles of Blue
2009

MICHAL URBANIAK Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 4 ratings
In Concert
1973
0.00 | 0 ratings
Friday Night At the Village Vanguard
1985
0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz Legends
1993
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live in Holy City
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
From Poland with Jazz
2002
4.50 | 2 ratings
Michal Urbaniak's Group (Polish Jazz serie)
2005

MICHAL URBANIAK Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

MICHAL URBANIAK Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

MICHAL URBANIAK Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

MICHAL URBANIAK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Heritage  by URBANIAK, MICHAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.50 | 4 ratings

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Heritage
Michal Urbaniak Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

3 stars I will admit it. I collected Michal Urbaniak's albums back in the seventies not for his performance, although he is a fine violin player, but for his wife's vocals. Urszula Dudziak is an amazing performer, an exceptional scat vocalist with a four octave range, and a flair for the bizarre that falls somewhere between Yoko Ono and a space alien.

Urbaniak writes and plays nice, but not spectacular fusion pieces, and has a nice flair on his violin (although he's no competition for the likes of Jean-Luc Ponty). His band is good, as well, although they sound like a hundred other seventies fusion combos.

It's Dudziak who raises the music above the normal. Whether she is just adding background vocal percussion, or taking the lead, she dominates the pieces with her weird vocal brilliance. One question though: Why does Cucu's Nest appear on so many albums?

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 Urban Express by URBANIAK, MICHAL album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.00 | 2 ratings

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Urban Express
Michal Urbaniak Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

2 stars I was a fan of Michal Urbaniak back in the seventies, partly because of his excellent violin playing, but moreso because of the vocals of his then wife, Urszula Dudziak. Her unique style of treated scat vocals and four octave range was unlike any other vocalist I've heard before or since. Alas, Urszula is not on this album.

Originally released in 1979 on LP, and reissued in 1990 with a bonus track, this album claims to be a full digital recording. That may be, as the sound is quite good. i wish I could say the same for the music. While Urbaniak plays some good violin solos, the tracks are mostly sequenced sounding synths loops, and awful drum patches. Particularly awful is I Want To Know Your Name, a smooth jazz radio friendly piece of drivel with lame, repetitious lyrics. Kookoo's Nest pales in comparison to the version recorded for Dudziak's "Midnight Rain" album.

The only bright spots are Frantic Lover which alternates between a cool upbeat arrangement (the frantic part, I suppose) and some more mundane verses, and the bonus, Blues For Pinky, obviously a blues piece, that has the best violin solo on the album.

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 Body English  by URBANIAK, MICHAL album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.43 | 9 ratings

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Body English
Michal Urbaniak Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars One between Michal Urbaniak "American" albums, but far not the best one. Michal's violin is connected to sound synthesizer, plenty of keyboards from support fill the space, and whole sound is quite polished, over arranged and often openly commercial.

The music itself is still jazz fusion, with many East European folklore elements, some Latin arrangements, and quite cheese in moments. Urszula's vocal is still great, something on Flora Purim's manner, and all music is noticeably influenced by RTF early works. With such difference that RTF never were such cheese, and had a higher musicianship level for sure.

Still not a bad album, but more interesting for Latin/soft fusion fans. And really not the best one between Urbaniak's works.

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 Fusion III by URBANIAK, MICHAL album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.36 | 9 ratings

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Fusion III
Michal Urbaniak Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Possibly most popular Polish jazz fusion violinist solo album. Great team of musicians, including drummer Steve Gadd and two excellent jazz fusion guitarists Larry Coryell and John Abercrombie. Important presence of Michal's then-wife Ursula Dudziak (kind of Polish Flora Purim).

Music is strongly influenced by early RTF sound, but played on very funky manner. Melodic, with Eastern European folk elements, rounded pulsation. Or let say - Eastern European funk. Michal violin's sound is not on the front plan, but more like one of supporting instruments. Interesting vocals and rhythm section, plus some guitars work.

Easy accessible listening, with some elements of softer pop-jazz sound. But great album in whole, especially for funky mellow fusion lovers. I prefer Michal's more experimental and spicy works though.

Still 3,5 - for pleasant and not boring funky fusion.

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 Urbanator II by URBANIAK, MICHAL album cover Studio Album, 1996
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Urbanator II
Michal Urbaniak Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
2 stars If you still remember Michal Urbaniak's great violin fusion from 70-s, just forget it. On this album (twenty years after)he plays some electric violin and sax moments in NY-style lounge jazz. With very dance-floor rhythms, some hip-hop and soul vocals, quite nice funky bass and Latin influenced melodies.

Music is quite high quality pop-funky jazz , and has nothing in common with jazz-rock or any progressive fusion form. Even Michal solos there are more decorative, than musically attractive or interesting. Possibly, product of it's moment, this album is hardly interesting for listening. Not so bad back-up music though.

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 Heritage  by URBANIAK, MICHAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.50 | 4 ratings

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Heritage
Michal Urbaniak Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Very rare Michal Urbaniak's album. Recorded in Stuttgart, Germany with his Fusion band. Quite different from his earlier works.

Urbaniak's violin isn't soloing instrument there, but part of well balanced fusion sound. Kenny Kirkland, US keyboardist, plays one of his first recordings ever on this album. His keyboards sound is a basis for all compositions on this album and sounds very Corea (RTF time) influenced. Another great musician, participated on this album, was US bassist Tony Bunn, ex -Sun Ra's Intergalactic Research Arkestra member.

Album's music contains jazzy wordless vocals of Michal's wife and well-known Polish jazz- singer Urszula Dudziak, heavily influenced by psychedelic Gong's vocals. All music is extremely interesting combination of melodic Eastern European and funky US early jazz fusion.

Very interesting and pleasant album. Must have work for any serious jazz fusion collection. Extremely rare recordings now, though.

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 Fusion by URBANIAK, MICHAL album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.07 | 9 ratings

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Fusion
Michal Urbaniak Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars First Michal Urbaniak album, which was available in US as well. Excellent fusion of its time, recorded in Germany with team of skilled Polish musicians.

Urbaniak plays sax, but his main instrument is for sure violin. Music there is on the level of jazz fusion leaders from mid 70-s. Compositions are very vital, bright, melting Eastern European emotive melodies with light funk. Michal's violin sound often similar to Jean Luc Ponty's , and all music is in a vein of Weather Report or RTF.

Fresh, enough original if a bit lightweight, jazz fusion record from golden genre era. Very recommended for vintage jazz fusion fans.

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 Body English  by URBANIAK, MICHAL album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.43 | 9 ratings

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Body English
Michal Urbaniak Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Greta007

4 stars I bought this one on vinyl many years ago. The vinyl is gone and all I have left is an MP3 I converted from an old tape of mine.

I bought this during my 'fusion phase' and I was starting to get very picky about my fusion. Trouble is that most fusion bands are simply boring. You get the fabulous musicianship, but often precious little else. Michal Urbaniak's 'Body English' was one of the few fusion albums that has that extra 'x factor', something beyond the standard fusion fare of Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, David Sanborn fare of MOR jazzrock.

Examples of other fusion albums of the time that I felt had that something extra (bearing in mind that I have long been a King Crimson tragic)?

Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds of Fire Weather Report - Black Market and Heavy Weather Gong's - Shamal Brand X - Unorthodox Behaviour

The link? Strong compositions and the desire to do something different.

If I was to compare Michal U's music on Body English to anyone else, it would have to be Weather Report. The compositions, as I remember them, were excellent and the musicianship as virtuosic as one would expect from a top-drawer fusion act. While I was fond of Jean Luc Ponty's playing, Michal U's tone is richer to my ear and he's technically in the same ball-park.

As for the track that I managed to retain, 'Sevenish', it's a fusion masterpiece. Here MU really let's his gypsy leanings shine through in a song of three parts of three, each time building in intensity. Each major section starts with a rustic melody that calls to mind his native Poland and reminiscent of Ponty, then it goes into what could be called 'scrambled funk', where the solo instrument of the section creeps in which then bursts into full-blown fusion high tempo 7/8 fusion mayhem.

The first solo is synth, then violin, then guitar. Each solo is excellent but the standout to me is the climax of Steve Caro's blistering guitar solo towards the end of the song. Scorching!

If you enjoy sophisticated fusion that's a cut above most, you won't go wrong with this one.

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 Super Constellation  by URBANIAK, MICHAL album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Super Constellation
Michal Urbaniak Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Joćo Paulo

4 stars I listen this albun in a vinil tape and I like very much the Jazz atmosfere of then. The violin is very melodic, with a delay pedal that create, an amazing calm music atmosferic. If you like Jean Luc Ponty, you like Michael Urbaniak because the complex intricate fazz fusion is sometimes finish with melodic moments. A very good album, not comercial but that I like very much.

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Thanks to alucard for the artist addition.

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