Leszek Żądło - soprano & tenor saxophones
Andrzej Cudzich - double bass
Janusz Stefański - drums
Leszek Żądło (Leschek Zadlo) is a great Polish jazz musician who has lived in Munich for many years. He was born in 1945, in Cracow. Starting at the age of 7, he sang in the Krakow Philharmonic’s Boys’ Choir, and began playing the saxophone as a 16-year-old, taking up studies in Poland’s first saxophone class, at the level II Music School known as the Cracow Conservatory. In 1966 he traveled to Vienna, invited by the group Storyville Jazz Band, and later studied clarinet at the Vienna Conservatory. His first significant success was a soloist’s award in 1967, at the International Jazz Competition in Vienna, where he was congratulated by Duke Ellington himself! Soon after that, he received a scholarship to the newly opened jazz department at the Academy of Music in Graz where, from 1967 to 1970, he studied jazz and classical music on saxophone, clarinet and flute. In 1970-75, he played in Vienna’s prestigious Radio and Television Big Band (ORF), which at that time also included musicians such as Dexter Gordon, Art Farmer and Jimmy Woode. While still living in Vienna, in 1972 he started his first group, The Leszek Zadlo Ensemble, with which he recorded his first album in 1973, Inner Silence. In the early 70’s – still playing in Poland quite often – he also initiated a cycle of jazz workshops in Chodzież. Years later, the city awarded him a medal for his services.
In his biography, it’s impossible to overlook his years-long association with renowned actress Barbara Kwiatkowska. When they met in 1972, he was smitten, and his move to Munich 3 years later was a result of this affection. They moved in together 4 years later, and lived as partners from then on. In 1979, he chose being with her over a scholarship that many musicians dream of, to Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Throughout this time he played a great deal, with groups like the European Jazz Quintet (Alan Skidmore, Gerd Dudek, Ali Haurand, Pierre Courbois), and his own group, started in 1974, The Leszek Zadlo Quartett (Isla Eckinger, Joe Haider, Joe Nay), with which he recorded Thoughts and other albums. He also organized concerts, including a memorable one in Hamburg in 1978, with guests Urszula Dudziak and Zbigniew Seifert. In the early 80’s, during Poland’s martial law period, he started the Polski Jazz Ensemble (Janusz Stefański, Adzik Sendecki and Bronek Suchanek), with which he toured and performed worldwide, and the musicians allocated part of their earnings to aid the Solidarity movement. It was with this intention that, in 1985, he also organized the Jazz Solidarity festival at the Munich Opera House, and acquired two huge PA systems for the Polish Jazz Society with the funds raised. With Jacek Kaczmarski and Alina Grabowska, he recorded several dozen programs with jazz music for Radio Free Europe, as well. For this activity, he was awarded the Solidarity medal in 2011. In Munich, together with Tadeusz Nowakowski, Alina Grabowska and Barbara Kwiatkowska, he founded the Society for German-Polish Understanding, which he remains chairman of to this day. In 1986, the German Ministry of Culture invited him to participate in the pilot project of creating a jazz department at the Würzburg Higher School of Music, where he lectures on a full-time basis. In 1991-2016, he also taught jazz at the Richard-Strauss Conservatory in Munich, and in 2009-2012 at the Cracow Academy of Music as well, where he also held a guest professorship.
In a 55-year career, besides the above-mentioned great musicians, he’s also played with Albert Mangelsdorff, Joachim Kühn, Janusz Muniak, Leszek Kułakowski, Włodek Pawlik, George Russell, Elvin Jones, and many others. He has played in various big bands on the stages of over 40 countries, and has recorded over 100 albums as a leader or sideman. He has educated many musicians. To this day, he plays with a group he started in 2009, the European Art Ensemble (with Tolek Lisiecki, Wojtek Groborz, Wiesiek Jamioł and August W. Scheer). After becoming free, Poland restored Żądło’s passport, and his ties to the country continue to deepen. In 2016, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage awarded him the Merited for Culture Gloria Artis medal, and the Melomani Jazz Society presented him an Oscar “for his work”.
The title Miss B., or Barbara Kwiatkowska-Lass, is a theme for a biographic hit. In Poland, we know a fairly good bit about the career of Eva, (who) wanted to sleep, but at this point the period of 2 marriages – first to Roman Polański, and later to Karlheinz Böhm (son of the great conductor) – is not that familiar. Böhm, an actor himself, saw Kwiatkowska primarily in the role of a wife and mother, and didn’t especially help or motivate her professionally. Barbara devoted herself to raising their daughter, Kasia, yet longed for the film set, and the marriage didn’t last. Into that situation came Leszek, and so it went… She performed again, in a number of major films (directed by Krzysztof Zanussi, and others), and he became interested in music for film and theater. He and Claus Bantzer wrote the music to German director Peter Lilienthal’s film The Silence of The Poet, which Barbara was also in. He also recorded music to The Wizards of Honoratka, a film by the Galicja Cracow Film Publisher directed by Leopold Rene Nowak (the title Honoratka was a Łódź cafe where Poland’s “Hollywood” liked to meet). He wrote music for Paweł Pawlikowski as well, to the film The Grave Case of Charlie Chaplin. The over 20-year relationship with Barbara bears the strength of a deep and exceptional feeling, but was also one of friendship and respect. The synergy was beautiful, too. Żądło wrote the title piece, Miss B., for her in 1977. They helped each other, traveled to sets together (in Sardinia, for example), and were involved in things like supporting the Solidarity underground together. The idyll was spoiled, however, by Barbara’s being diagnosed with hepatitis, though there was no sign of any tragedy at hand. But on March 6th, 1995, Leszek was playing a concert with his big band at the Munich Philharmonic. Barbara stepped out “for just a bit”, to see some friends who were at another concert, a few blocks away… and never returned. The death was totally unexpected. A memorial service was held in Munich, after which her urn “returned” to Cracow, and on April 5th her funeral took place here. Miss B. rests at the Rakowicki Cemetary, on the lane of the merited, and her grave is adorned by a sculpture of her by professor Marian Konieczny (photo – pg. 3). Żądło – encouraged by friends – invited two great musicians, and a one day later in Nowa Huta, they recorded the material presented here. They began with Song of a Nice Death… you won’t hear this level of authentic emotion in any other performance of an epitaph piece. These musicians - alas, both no longer with us – were Andrzej Cudzich (d. 2003) and Janusz Stefański (d. 2016). An incidental trio, but a jazz legend, and not just Polish! (From conversations with Leszek Żądło - For Tune).
released October 5, 2018
Recorded April 6th, 1995 at Studio Stebo in Cracow (Poland)
Recording engineer: Stefan Sasorski, Mix & Master: Artur Okularczyk
Design: For Tune
Cover photo: arch rodzinne (B. Kwiatkowska
Other photos: arch rodzinne (L. Żądło - p.2, B. Kwiatkowska - p.7), Ewa Iranek Owsianny (nagrobek - p.3), Leszek Franz Owca Photography (L. Żądło - p.4, 8, 12), Hans Rauchensteiner (B. Kwiatkowska - p.11)
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