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.
Michal Urbaniak’s Fusion raised the violinist/saxophonist up into the pantheon of electric crossover groups in the 70’s and 80’s. The band is comprised of top-flight New York-based musicians, all masters in funk, fusion and jazz. The title piece consists of three sections – a swinging adventure with Urbaniak’s exploratory violin moves into From Smiles to Smiles, as an unaccompanied Ursula Druziak sings making extensive use of electronic affects. More Smiles Forever brings the band back in on a bright romp with a percussive Brazilian feel. Hymn of the Uranian Sequels presents a funky fusion piece with outstanding violin and vocal solos and fascinating rhythmic riffs. The orchestral sounding Piece for Fifteen Strings highlights Urbaniak’s violin in duo with Emmitt Chapman playing his polyphonic chordal instrument, the Chapman Stick. In the Wake of Awakening has Michal on the electronic wind instrument, the Lyricon, as the band fuses funk and jazz into an amalgam of inventive fun. Aflatus presents Urbaniak and Dudziak in a freely envisioned duo. On Schwarzwald Vibes there’s the impression of otherworldly sounds blowing through the Black Forest, whereas Sunday Melody is a minute 20 second exhibition of Dudziak’s vocal legerdemain. The band takes a scenic ride down the fusion highway on Autobahn to drive the album home. It’s a trip well worth taking.