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.
Discography (a selection):
Giancarlo Nicolai - La sorvegliane del tempo (Altrisuoni 2008)
HR-Bigband - unauffällige festansage (jazzwerkstatt 2008)
Emil Mangelsdorff Quartett - Blues Forever (Bellaphon, 2007)
Tomasz Stańko - 1970-1975-1984-1986-1988 (Metal Mind 2008)
Vitold Rek & EastWestWind - Zuhause (2007 Taso)
Charlie Mariano & Vitold Rek feat. Peter Reiter - Kathedrale vol. 1 (Taso 2005)
Charlie Mariano & Vitold Rek - opus absolutum (Taso 2003)
Johann P. Tammen & Vitold Rek - Die Erde, sing das Brot (Taso 2003)
Die polnische Folk Explosion (Taso 2002)
John Tchicai, Vitold Rek, Karl Berger - 2 x 2 (Taso 2001)
Vitold Rek - Bassfiddle alla polacca (Taso 1999)
East West Wind - Live at the St. Ingbert Jazz Festival 1997 (Taso 1998)
Fritz Hartschuh Quartett - Das Erik Satie Projekt (Konnex 1998)
Vitold Rek with Elvira Plenar - "Elvira Plenar (Bellaphon 1994)
Vittold Rek with Peter Giger – Jazzz (B+W 1993)
John Tchicai & Vitold Rek - "Art Of The Duo" Vol.1 (Enja 1993)
John Tchicai -"Satisfaction" (Enja 1992)
Family of Percussion & Friends - Mozambique Meets Europe (B+W 1993)
Family of Percussion & Friends - Family Jewels (Jazz Network 1992)
Stan Soyka - "Acoustic" (Zic-Zac1991)
Olga Szwajgier - Condemned To Life (Muza 1987)
Vitold Rek (solo) - The Spark (Poljazz 1986)
Basspace - Basspace 555555 (Muza 1985)
Basspace – Basspace (Poljazz 1984)
18th October 1955 born in Rzeszów
From 1963 accordion at the Rzeszów Music School
From 1965 guitar at the Rzeszów Music School
From 1969 double bass at the Rzeszów Music School
From 1971 double bass at the Chopin Grammar School in Kraków
1975 prize winner at the Jazz nad Odrą Festival
1978 Jazz Jamboree Festival in Warsaw
1982 completes his studies at the Music Academy in Kraków
1986 and 1988 winner in the double bass category of the magazine “Jazz Forum”
1999 Jazz working stipendium from the city of Frankfurt am Main
2000 teacher at the Academy of Music and Performing Art in Frankfurt am Main and at the Music High School in Mainz.
2010 artistic head of the JIF Jazz Festival in Frankfurt am Main
Vitold Rek lives and works in Offenbach am Main. Now he describes himself with a broad grin of satisfaction as a self-styled “Hessian”.