Polish violinist, saxophonist and composer Michal Urbaniak played a major role in the development of jazz fusion in the 1970s and 80s. While working in Scandinavia in the 1960’s he met his future wife, Polish singer Urszula Dudziak and formed the foundation of what would later become the group that would stamp its imprint on the jazz world, Michal Urbaniak’s Fusion. Urbaniak moved to New York in 1973. His popularity on the NY scene garnered him a contract with Columbia records and concerts at the Village Vanguard and Carnegie Hall. Blending music from his Polish and European roots with the funk and fusion of the Big Apple impelled American and international jazz musicians to experiment with mixing various ethnic musical forms with jazz.
With singer Urszua Dudziak at his side, this pared-down quintet version of Michal Urbaniak’s Fusion also launched keyboardist Kenny Kirkland’s meteoric career that continued with Wynton Marsalis’ breakthrough first band and Kirkland’s long association with Branford Marsalis and Sting. A traditional folk feel dominates the title track as a series of melodic motifs merge into an expressive violin solo. Prayer comprises a complex communal electronic/vocal mélange underpinned by a solid rhythmic riff, while Vio-Lines projects Urbaniak’s magnificent solo violin. Stick It In conveys passionate upbeat sensuality with outstanding solos by Urbaniak and Kirkland. Cucu’s Nest moves from sylvan settings into funk and Michal’s flashy solo on lyricon. On Gaby’s Mood an unaccompanied Dudziak uses a variety of electronic affects to create a fascinatingly rich ambiance. Storks waltzes into a pulsing up-tempo and Urszula’s powerful vocal, while Urbaniak takes flight on violin followed by Kirkland’s driving solo. With its impressive depth and breadth, Heritage purveys a musical legacy that stands the test of time.