Tomasz Szukalski

Tomasz Szukalski (born December 25, 1947 in Warsaw, Polish People's Republic, registered by Soviet authorities January 8, 1948.[1] - died August 2, 2012 in Piaseczno, Poland)[2] was a Polish jazz saxophone player, composer and improviser. Tomasz is most known for his performances as a sideman of Tomasz Stańko, Edward Vesala and Zbigniew Namysłowski. Awarded Magister of Music (Master of Arts) at Fryderyk Chopin University of Music, Warsaw.

Tomasz Szukalski
Tomasz Szukalski @ Camaldolese crypt of Bielany (Warsaw), October, 2008
Tomasz Szukalski @ Camaldolese crypt of Bielany (Warsaw), October, 2008
Background information
Born(1948-01-08)January 8, 1948
Polish People's Republic
DiedAugust 2, 2012(2012-08-02) (aged 64)
Musical career
Years active1966-2011
Polskie Nagrania Muza
GOWI Records
Associated actsTomasz Stańko
Edward Vesala
The Quartet
WebsiteTomasz Szukalski homepage

Life and careerEdit

Early yearsEdit

Tomasz studied clarinet but preferred to perform on tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone and on special occasions on bass clarinet. Being experiment friendly Tomasz even once tried a chainsaw.

Tomasz started his career in the jazz orchestras of Zbigniew Namysłowski and Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski often outperforming the bandleaders. Other members of the bands included Tomasz Stańko, Zbigniew Seifert, Adam Makowicz, Włodzimierz Nahorny, Janusz Muniak, Michał Urbaniak and Tomasz's lifelong mate Wojciech Karolak.

Tomasz Stańko, ECM and SBBEdit

In the 1970s Tomasz's performances became more avant-garde and free. His bandmates at this time were Tomasz Stańko, Peter Warren and Edward Vesala but Tomasz performed also with Arild Andersen, Dave Holland, Palle Danielsson, Palle Mikkelborg, Terje Rypdal, Juhani Aaltonen and Antti Hytti. During this period Tomasz recorded, as sideman, for the prestigious jazz label ECM Records. Parallel to touring Scandinavia and West Europe with jazz musicians Tomasz performed in Polish People's Republic with the progressive Silesian rockband SBB.[3]

The Quartet and Józef SkrzekEdit

In 1977 Tomasz consolidated his own band The Quartet,[4] which soon gained reputation. His bandmates were Sławomir Kulpowicz, Paweł Jarzębski and Janusz Stefański. In the years 1980-1981 Tomasz continued a duo cooperation with SBB's leader Józef Skrzek and the planned for autumn 1981 joint performance of, almost cultic, SBB and his own The Quartet at the renowned Jazz Jamboree festival, due to the tense political situation in Poland, was not finalized. In 1981 Tomasz also performed with Józef Skrzek in the movie "The War of the Worlds: Next Century". Just weeks before the onset of martial law in Poland Tomasz performed with Józef Skrzek, Andrzej Ryszka, Andrzej Urny, Dean Brown and Gil Goldstein in Warsaw and at a workshop in memory of John Coltrane, organised by Joachim-Ernst Berendt at Südwestfunk in Baden-Baden with his The Quartet friends, Tomasz Stańko, Albert Mangelsdorff and John Coltrane’s last drummer Rashied Ali.[5] During Tomasz's stay in Vienna, following December 1981 Czechoslovakia tour (performing "Ambitus Extended" with Józef Skrzek), martial law was onset and Tomasz returned home.[6]

Martial law - Time killersEdit

Tomasz joined again the orchestra of Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski. In 1984 Tomasz mobilised his energy to record with his old mates Wojciech Karolak and Czesław Bartkowski the groovy "Time Killers", which instantly became a hit. In 1985 Tomasz consolidated his new quartet with Piotr Biskupski, Andrzej Cudzich and Andrzej Jagodziński but the quartet didn't survive.[7]

New hope - Artur, Alain, Antti, Apostolis, ArildEdit

After 1990 Tomasz performed in various constellations, recorded as sideman and special guest providing unforgettable saxophone solos, and started a long lasting cooperation with the young pianist Artur Dutkiewicz. During his last years Tomasz performed with Artur Dutkiewicz, Wojciech Karolak, Alain Brunet,[8] Tadeusz Nalepa, Piotr Wojtasik, Wojciech Majewski, Tomasz Stańko, Apostolis Anthimos, Arild Andersen, Janusz Skowron, Karin Krog and Antti Hytti.[9]


Tomasz lost his home, got divorced and spent more than a decade in his primitive cabin outside Warsaw, where he had been, since 2004. The Quartet reunited and performed some concerts across Europe in 2006 and 2007 but soon Sławomir Kulpowicz died. Around 2009 sick and homeless Tomasz gained some attention of friends, especially from Artur Dutkiewicz, who organised "The Day of The Jackal" (Polish: Dzień Szakala) benefit concerts in several major Polish cities. The last and biggest one, organised in Warsaw on November 21, 2010, became the greatest jazz performance of this year in Poland.[10] The following musicians helped Tomasz find a place at an artist's asylum in Skolimów outside Warsaw:

Tomasz Szukalski - homeless and ailing at "Day of The Jackal" benefit, November 21, 2010, Warsaw (Artur Dutkiewicz to the right)

After a couple of months (2011–2012) spent at artist's asylum Tomasz Szukalski passed on August 2, 2012 at a hospital in Piaseczno, Poland)[11] Tomasz's funeral was performed August 8, 2012 at Bródno Cemetery, just one kilometre from his stolen and occupied home.[12]

Tomasz was awarded posthumously, in 2012, with the Medal for Merit to Culture - Gloria Artis for his achievements for the Polish culture and in 2013 with Fryderyk (in Gold), the Polish equivalent of the Grammy Award, for the works of his lifetime.[13][14]


Mister nobodyEdit

Tomasz Szukalski performed on far more than 100 albums but just a bunch appears under his own name. Tomasz was one of the most influential Polish musicians, he was the spirit and teacher of a whole generation of musicians. Tomasz was invited as guest by many artists, bands, radio stations, schools, workshops, venues and festivals to teach and to perform his warm, beautiful and both - calm and energizing solos.

Tomasz Stańko about Tomasz Szukalski:

This was completely improvised music (TWET). Transcendental. This greenhorn Szukalski was a revelation.

He was playing perfectly from the very beginning. The very best musicians are like this.

When I was playing with him, I've always been surprised.

He was very creative in the band (with Edward Vesala), what we mostly appreciated was his sound, his expression.

I had to rely on top class musicians, and in Poland there were just a few. Szukalski, Szczurek, Skowron.

Whoever he was playing with, he was the better performer.[15][16]

Selected discographyEdit

Recorded Issued Title Performer Kind Label
1972 1974 Koncert podwójny na 5 solistów i orkiestrę
(Double Concerto for Five Soloists and Orchestra)
Tomasz Szukalski, Zbigniew Seifert, Janusz Muniak, Włodzimierz Nahorny, Zbigniew Namysłowski, Czesław Niemen, Bronisław Suchanek, Janusz Stefański, Stu Martin, Tomasz Stańko, Jan Jarczyk, Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski and others live in studio Poljazz Z-SXL 0553
1972 Sound of Marianna Wróblewska Marianna Wróblewska PN Muza SXL 0847
1972 Naga 1 Niebiesko-Czarni PN Muza SXL 0881
1972 Naga 2 Niebiesko-Czarni PN Muza SXL 0882
1973 Winobranie
Zbigniew Namysłowski PN Muza SXL 0952
1973 Rien ne va plus Novi Singers PN Muza SXL 1009
1973 Night Jam Session in Warsaw 1973 All Stars After Hours live PN Muza SXL 1033
1973 Interjazz 3 Tomasz Szukalski, John McLaughlin and others live, compilation Supraphon 1 15 1739
1974 Easy! Wojciech Karolak PN Muza SXL 1069
1974 Chałturnik S.P.P.T. Chałturnik PN Muza SXL 1079
1974 TWET Tomasz Stańko, Edward Vesala, Peter Warren, Tomasz Szukalski live in studio PN Muza SXL 1138
1974 Sprzedawcy glonów
(Algae Dealers)
Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski live in studio PN Muza SXL 1141
1975 Kujaviak Goes Funky Zbigniew Namysłowski Quintet PN Muza SX 1230
1975 Three Thousands Points Krzysztof Sadowski PN Muza SX 1277
1975 2004 Sikorki
SBB live in studio Metal Mind Productions
1975 Jazz Jamboree 75 Vol. 2 Karin Krog & Zbigniew Namysłowski Quintet live PN Muza SX 1340
1975 1976
Balladyna Tomasz Stańko, Tomasz Szukalski, Dave Holland, Edward Vesala live in studio ECM Records 1071, 1777597
1976 Ach! Jak Przyjemnie Sami Swoi live in studio PN Muza SX 1353
1976 Drums Dream Czesław Bartkowski PN Muza SX 1419
1976 2004 Anthology, Vol. 05 SBB live in studio Metal Mind Productions
1976 Rodina Edward Vesala, Tomasz Szukalski, Tomasz Stańko, Juhani Aaltonen, Pekka Poyry and others Love Records LRLP 189
1976 Satu Edward Vesala, Tomasz Szukalski, Palle Mikkelborg, Terje Rypdal, Palle Danielsson, Tomasz Stańko, Juhani Aaltonen and others ECM 1088
1976 1978 Live at Remont Tomasz Stańko - Edward Vesala Quartet live Helicon HR 1002
1977 Love Chant Jan Wallgren - Bengt Ernryd Quartet Dragon
1978 1979 Almost Green Tomasz Stańko, Tomasz Szukalski, Palle Danielsson, Edward Vesala live in studio Leo 008
1978 Jasmine Lady Zbigniew Namysłowski PN Muza
1978 1979
The Quartet The Quartet live in studio Poljazz Z-SX 0688
Anex AN 302
1979 Loaded The Quartet live in studio
1979 Swing Party Krzysztof Sadowski PN Muza SX 1796
1979 Neitsytmatka
(Maiden Voyage)
Edward Vesala, Tomasz Szukalski, Sławomir Kulpowicz, Paweł Jarzębski, Tomasz Stańko Polarvox LJLP 1014
1980 Józefina Józef Skrzek pl:Wifon LP 037
1981 Wojna Światów
- następne stulecie
(War of the Worlds
- Next Century)
Józef Skrzek, Tomasz Szukalski, Robert Gola, Janusz Ziomber, Jan Skrzek PN Muza SX 2342
1981 Ambitus Extended Józef Skrzek & Tomasz Szukalski Helicon HR 1006
1981 Wojna Światów - Live
(War of the Worlds - Live)
Józef Skrzek Formation live in Czechoslovakia Wydawnictwo 21 21.014
1981 Kolędy
Józef Skrzek & Tomasz Szukalski old Polish X-mas carols
single 45 RPM
Helicon HR 001
1982 Matko, która nas znasz... Stanisław Sojka feat. Tomasz Szukalski live in studio Helicon HR 1009
1983 Kolędy
Józef Skrzek & Tomasz Szukalski old Polish X-mas carols
single 45 RPM
Helicon HR 002
1984 Time Killers Wojciech Karolak - Tomasz Szukalski - Czesław Bartkowski Helicon HR 1012
1985 Tina Kamila Tomasz Szukalski for daughter PN Muza SX 2250
1986 Tina Blues Tomasz Szukalski Quartet live Poljazz PSJ 172, Wipe 7084
1986 Interjazz 5 Milan Svoboda & The Polish - Czech Big Band live in studio Supraphon
1986 Music from Poland at MIDEM '86 various artists PN Muza SX 2292
1987 Polish Jazz Vol. 1 Wipe 7081
1987 1987 Sen szaleńca
(A Fool’s Dream)
Tadeusz Nalepa PN Muza 2437
1983-1988 1988 Radioaktywny
Stanisław Sojka PN Muza SX 2661
1988 Sunrise Sunset Grażyna Auguścik PN Muza SX 2615
1989 Plays Ethio - Jazz Mulatu Astatke Poljazz PSJ 252
1989 Blues Duo SZ - SZ /
Sz-Sz Blues
Tomasz Szukalski - Janusz Szprot live in studio Wipe 7079
1989 Borżomski Wąwóz /
Body And Soul
Jazz Chorał & Tomasz Szukalski Quartet with a band from Georgia PN Muza
1991 Absolutnie
Tadeusz Nalepa PN Muza SX 3011
1991 Body and Soul Tomasz Szukalski Quartet live Polonia Records CD 003
1993 1994 A Farewell to Maria Tomasz Stańko GOWI Records CDG 12
1994 1994 Balladyna
- Theatre Play Compositions
Tomasz Stańko GOWI Records CDG 16
1996 Selected Recordings (:rarum XVII) Tomasz Stańko compilation ECM Records 8017
1997 Gadające Drzewo
(Talking Tree)
Stół Pański feat. Tomasz Szukalski, Sławomir Kulpowicz & Andrzej Przybielski ZBIG Records 001
1999 Lady Walking Artur Dutkiewicz en:Universal Music 546070-2
1999 Escape Piotr Wojtasik
1999 2004 Anthology, Vol. 14 SBB live Metal Mind Productions
2000 2001 Reinkarnasja Grzegorz Karnas Not Two
2000 Phone Consultations Tomasz Szukalski, Wojciech Karolak, Jarosław Śmietana Quartet
2000 Barefoot Anna Maria Jopek EmArcy 016 299-2
2000 O co tyle milczenia Anna Maria Jopek Universal Music Polska
2001 Grechuta Wojciech Majewski Quintet Sony Music Polska
2002 My Lullaby Agnieszka Skrzypek vel Aga Zaryan Not Two/ Cosmopolis MW 737-2
2003 Zamyślenie
Wojciech Majewski Quintet Sony Music Polska
2003 Live in Warsaw
(Skarpa Theatre)
Karin Krog & Tomasz Szukalski Quartet live
50 copies
Mariusz Zych & Embassy of Norway in Poland
2004 Sny
Grzegorz Karnas DeBies 002
2005 O Panie przebacz mej myśli, że nie dość jeszcze Miłuję Józef Skrzek compilation
2005 2006 Wolność w sierpniu (Freedom in August) Tomasz Stańko, Tomasz Szukalski, Marcin Wasilewski, Apostolis Anthimos, Sławomir Kurkiewicz, Michał Miśkiewicz, Janusz Skowron contribution for the
Warsaw Uprising Museum
2005 Session Natural Irish & Jazz Carrantuohill Celt / Rockers Publishing CC08
2005 The Best of Polish Jazz 2005
1981-2007 2010 The Day of The Jackal Tomasz Szukalski, Apostolis Anthimos, Arild Andersen, Andrzej Cudzich, Artur Dutkiewicz, Paweł Jarzębski, Kazimierz Jonkisz, Sławomir Kulpowicz, Józef Skrzek, Janusz Stefański, Zbigniew Wiatr live compilation
100 copies
Mariusz Zych limited private edition
2011 The Masters of Polish Jazz Piotr Wojtasik


  1. ^ "First anniversary of Tomasz Szukalski's death" (in Polish).
  2. ^ "Polnischer Saxophonist Tomasz Szukalski gestorben" (in German).
  3. ^ "Background - SBB - music from occupied Silesia". SBB.
  4. ^ "The Quartet - Loaded". polish-jazz.
  5. ^ "Polnischer Saxophonist Tomasz Szukalski gestorben" (in German).
  6. ^ Hojn, Andrzej (2003). SBB wizje: autoryzowana historia zespołu (in Polish). p. 262. ISBN 83-919431-0-0.
  7. ^ Stańko, Tomasz (2010). DESPERADO - Autobiografia (in Polish). ISBN 978-83-08-05326-3.
  8. ^ "Alain Brunet - Jazz" (in French). Alain Brunet.
  9. ^ "Tomasz Szukalski (1947-2012) / "Kukunor", live in Finland 2005 (homage by Antti Hytti)". Antti Hytti.
  10. ^ "The Day of The Jackal - charity concert" (in Polish). RadioJazz.FM.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Polnischer Saxophonist Tomasz Szukalski gestorben" (in German).
  12. ^ "The Funeral of Tomasz Szukalski" (in Polish). jazzforum.
  13. ^ "Fryderyk 2013: Tomasz Szukalski (in gold)" (PDF) (in Polish).
  14. ^ "Fryderyk - News (2013: Tomasz Szukalski & Józef Skrzek)" (in Polish).
  15. ^ Stańko, Tomasz (2010). DESPERADO - Autobiografia (in Polish). ISBN 978-83-08-05326-3.
  16. ^ "Fryderyk 2013: Tomasz Szukalski (in gold)" (PDF) (in Polish).