Vitold Rek, whose real name is Witold Szczurek, began his adventures in music at the early age of eight: first on the accordion, then at the age of 10 on the guitar before he heard the above-mentioned radio broadcast and changed to the double bass at the age of 14. After studying at a music school in Rzeszów he left the town at the age of 16 against the will of his parents and travelled to Kraków. Here he studied the double bass (classical music) at the Fryderyk Chopin Music Grammar School. He completed his studies as a qualified musician at the Music Academy in 1982. But that was not his first musical success. As early as 1975, after he received an award at the “Jazz nad Odrą” Festival, he had aroused the interest of his “older” colleagues. Jan Jarczyk, Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski, Ewa Demarczyk, Zbigniew Namysłowski, Vladyslav Sendecki and Sławomir Kulpowicz all included the young highly talented double bass player in their projects and bands.
Vitold Rek’s most intensive work was with the trumpeter Tomasz Stańko: the two played together in various formations for a total of 12 years. But the jazz scene in Poland gradually became too narrow for this extraordinary double bass player. So Vitold Rek left Poland in the direction of Frankfurt am Main in search of new projects, musicians, impulses and challenges. At that time many jazz stars from all over the world were living and working in Germany. Here he soon met up with the best players in the business – Karl Berger, Albert Mangelsdorff, Emil Mangelsdorff, John Tchicai, Peter Giger, Charlie Mariano, Gerd Dudek, Heinz Sauer, Jasper van’t Hof, Ralf Hübner, Bob Degen, Christof Lauer and Makaya Ntshoko – with whom he recorded the majority of his 100 recordings. Alongside his activities as a musician and music producer Vitold Rek is also committed to nurturing young musical talent. After teaching at the Music High School in Frankfurt am Main he now gives lessons in double bass (Jazz) and heads jazz bands at the Music High School in Mainz. Here he not only passes on his knowledge and experience but is also continuing the educational work of his mentor, teacher and professor Ryszard Daun from Kraków.
Vitold Rek is an outstanding double bass player. He can move around as freely in the repertoire of well-known jazz standards as in modern European jazz, not forgetting his wide-ranging experiments with sounds and sound colours in improvisation. His virtuoso arco is also a trademark. Vitold Rek’s style is simultaneously powerful and elegant, intensive and light. In his music he links his classical education with his love for jazz, his cosmopolitan outlook and his Polish origins. When talking about himself he says that he only discovered his Polish roots after he arrived in Germany. His solo CD, “Bassifiddle alla polacca“ (1999) is sure proof of this. But we can also see his musical origins in his band “East West Wind” with its folklore influences from Poland, Klezmer and music from other European cultures.
Vitold Rek has been awarded a huge number of prizes for his musical work: most recently the Hessian Jazz Prize 2013.
Adam Gusowski, March 2015