Adam Makowicz (pronounced Mah-KO-vitch), an internationally acclaimed jazz piano virtuoso, has dazzled audiences throughout the world with his touch, articulation, and rich harmonic textures.
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Adam was born of Polish parents in Czechoslovakia in 1940. He was raised in Poland from the age of six. “I studied classical music at the Chopin Conservatory of Music in Krakow, but dropped out because of my involvement in jazz,” he recalled. “In the mid-fifties I discovered Willis Conover’s program Music USA Jazz Hour, broadcast every night by the Voice of America. It changed my life forever. I chose a new life of freedom and improvisation considered by authorities to be 'decadent' over the career of a classical pianist my parents and teachers envisioned for me.”
As a result, Adam was forced to leave his home and school, and spent two years of homeless, hand-to-mouth living until he discovered a small jazz club hidden in a cellar where he could play and sleep in exchange for doing chores.
After many years of hardship, Adam launched his professional career in 1964. A series of acclaimed performances and recordings enhanced his reputation in both Europe and the United States. In the 1970s jazz finally found acceptance in Poland, and Adam was awarded a gold medal for his contribution to the arts. He was also voted the number one jazz pianist in Europe by the readers of Jazz Forum for seven years in a row.
By the time the legendary record producer John Hammond invited Adam to perform and record for CBS Columbia in 1977. “He played a very significant role in my life, launching my career in the United States,” Adam remembers. “He gave me important public exposure by arranging a six-week engagement at the Cookery in Greenwich Village and an appearance at Carnegie Hall with Earl Hines, George Shearing, and Teddy Wilson during a Newport Jazz Festival tribute to Errol Garner, who had died six months earlier.
"Imagine playing for the first time with these giants of jazz in the most famous concert hall in the world — I was scared to death! But I could not disappoint John, and I received a standing ovation from more than 2,000 people."
Adam settled in New York in 1978. In December, 1981, the Polish regime imposed martial law in order to crush the Solidarity Movement. In response, President Reagan initiated a special event called “Let Poland Be Poland,” in which many artists and public figures, including Adam, took part. As a result, he was banned from Poland until it gained its freedom in 1989.
Adam became an American citizen in 1986. During the past two decades Adam has performed solo, with groups, and with orchestras, including the National Symphony Orchestra; performed in major concert halls, festivals, and clubs in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Peru; and shared stages with many jazz greats. In April, 1998 he will celebrate his twentieth anniversary of living in New York and the release of two new CDs, bringing the total of albums recorded during the New York years to twenty.
Writing in the Toronto Star in 1995, Geoff Chapman summarized Adam’s considerable musical appeal: “A rare artist who grips and holds attention, Makowicz handles the classics of the American songbook with an aplomb equal to the way he deals with the devastatingly complex structures of his own compositions. A gifted improviser with splendid technical prowess, the pianist can also offer warmth and affection in melodic lines, the balance of fine taste, pungent swing and a jubilant approach inevitably generating audience cheer.”
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