Adam Makowicz – jazz legend, master of improvisation, piano virtuoso, humanitarian.
European “Jazz Forum” magazine voted Adam a “Number One Jazz Pianist” six years in the row. Decorated with the Officer’s Cross of Merit of the Republic of Poland and many other important and respected acknowledgements, Adam recorded several dozens of albums and performed in the world’s best concert venues.
Adam Makowicz was born in 1940 to Polish parents in Czech Silesia. From the age of six he was raised in Poland. “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 broadcast of the “Music USA Jazz Hour” which was emitted 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 1966. A series of acclaimed performances and recordings enhanced his reputation in both Europe and the United States. In 1977 the legendary record producer John Hammond invited Adam to New York City for a 10-weeks engagement and to record for CBS Columbia a solo album called “Adam”. By that time Adam had already performed worldwide and recorded 26 albums.”John Hammond 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.”
In 1978 Adam has settled in New York City and Manhattan and to this day this is his special place he calls home. When in December 1981 Polish communist regime imposed martial law to crush the Solidarity Movement, Adam, together with other Polish artists living in the US at the time, took part in the historically important TV show “Let Poland be Poland”.This event was initiated by the former President Ronald Reagan and was widely broadcasted all over the world. As a result, he was banned from Poland until it gained its freedom in 1989. Adam,who became an American citizen in 1986, has performed worldwide; with groups, orchestras and solo, sharing stages with many jazz greats. In addition to jazz classics Makowicz often includes the classical music in his repertoire. Especially the music of Frederic Chopin, whom, as Adam says, he “absorbed” in his youth and whose music he interprets in his own unique jazz fashion. Several CD’s with jazz interpretations of Chopin’s compositions are the only such releases in the United States.
Writing in the Toronto Star,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.”
Each Fall for the past several years, Adam has performed in the city of Ustron a sold out recital with the sole purpose of rising funds destined to help the financing of therapies and professional assistance to children and young adults afflicted with brain injuries.
Recently Adam Makowicz joined the illustrious group of 400 most influential Polish emigrants in the 400 years history of the USA.
On October 12th, 2009 in Warsaw, Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage honored Adam’s contribution to the Arts with the Golden Medal “Gloria Artis” – a very distinguished and highest possible recognition an artist can receive.