Rafał Trzaskowski, mayor of Warsaw, himself the son of a legendary Polish jazz musician pianist Andrzej Trzaskowski who during the Cold War years accompanied Stan Getz on some beautiful recordings, has paid tribute to Hammond organist Wojciech Karolak, also tweeting the photo above, who has died at the age of 82. The mayor in his tweet describes Karolak famed in Poland for such recordings as Time Killers as (here translated): ''An outstanding jazzman, a gentleman with extraordinary smartness, always standing out against the background of communist greyness, with class and wit. Nobody played the Hammond organ that way'' adding regretfully that he and Karolak had made an appointment to talk about his father and his band the Wreckers but that didn't happen in the end.
Gazeta Wyborcza describe in their tribute Karolak as ''one of the greatest jazz musicians in Poland.'' Karolak collaborated, among others Gazeta notes with a host of luminaries including Jan "Ptaszyn" Wróblewski and Krzysztof Komeda and arranged and composed for Studio M-2 and the Polish Radio Big Band.
A couple of times when I lived in Warsaw in the early-1990s I met Karolak. He made me laugh talking about having to ''saw down'' the very wide Hammond to manage to get it into his apartment! He was a magnetic presence even a brief meet-up easily confirmed. Later in London I compiled an organ-themed compilation for a covermounted promotional disc issued by the magazine Jazz on CD that included a track of Wojciech's. I'm listening to that track 'State Train' today in memory of Karolak.
In the 1980s, together with tenor saxophonist Tomasz Szukalski (1947-2012) and drummer Czesław ''Mały'' (''Little'') Bartkowski Time Killers from which the haunting 'State Train' is drawn was his finest hour and remains an acclaimed classic. SG