Leszek Żądło was born in the final months of the Second World War. Signs of music were everywhere in his parents’ house. For years he sang in the Cracow Philharmonic Choir and dreamt of playing the trumpet. But instead of a trumpet a soprano saxophone was found in an attic and offered for sale to the Żądło family. His father sold his wristwatch to pay for his son’s instrument and before long the young Leszek’s talent became clear. As a self-taught student he was accepted into the music school in Cracow. A new department of saxophone playing was specially created for him, complete with a professor. This was the first ever such department in Poland. The expectations were not disappointed. At a competition for young jazz players he appeared on stage with his “International Jazz Quartet” and promptly won a prize for soloists. His playing not only impressed the jury. Duke Ellington was present in person to congratulate him on stage, and two representatives from the Graz Academy of Music offered him a grant to study there in 1967. Here he met the Swedish trombonist Eje Thelin who opened up to him the wide world of improvisation where Leszek Żądło was to make a new home. This outstanding saxophonist has played countless concerts and made over 100 recordings with the greatest jazz musicians in the world. In the early 1980s he moved to Munich with his great love, the Polish actress Barbara Kwiatkowska. It was the era of a wave of strikes, Poland was in a state of near civil war and he soon recognised the power of the Solidarność trades union. In 1983 he set up his “Polski Jazz Ensemble” with whom he played a great many concerts, collecting over seventy thousand Deutschmarks which he donated to Solodarność in 1984 to help those in need in Poland.
Leszek Żądło is still socially committed. He is the founder and chair of the Society for German-Polish Understanding in Munich. Leszek Żądło is also still an active musician. He teaches at the Munich Academy of Music, as well as being a professor at the Würzburg Academy of Music..
In his career he has worked with such artists as Dexter Gordon, Friedrich Gulda, Dusko Goykovich, Michał Urbaniak, Zbigniew Seifert, Johannes Faber, Bob Degen, Bill Elgart, Paulo Cardoso, Ali Haurand, Alan Skidmore, Gerd Dudek, Vladyslav Sendecki, Bronisław Suchanek, Janusz Stefański, Claus Bantzer, Klaus Weiss, Volker Kriegel, Bobby Stern, Rimona Francis, Günter Lenz, Michael Naura, Werner Pirchner, Chris Beier, Rainer Glas, and Bireli Lagrene, to name but a few.
Adam Gusowski, January 2014
Interview with Leszek Żądło by Adam Gusowski (2013):