Vitold Rek - an incredible bassist with a magic bow

photo Vitold Rel & John TchicaiJohn Tchicai
* 28.04.1936, Copenhagen, Denmark
† 08.10.2012, Perpignan, France

John's last ever concert was on 02. June, 2012 with Vitold Rek & Makaya Ntshoko at the Jazz Festival in Peitz, Germany. John played tenor saxophone, flute and sang: a recording of the very emotional and spiritual performance was made by RBB radio Berlin.

"Vitold Rek and I have a telepathic connection when we play and he is my preferred double bassist. Compared to other bassists that I know, his abilities are hard to match in terms of his musicality, his tone and the pitch accuracy he maintains. His bowing is superb ... I like his compositions and his roots in the Polish folklore and I think that concerning the lyricism in his music and in my music we are very similar."
(John Tchicai, All About Jazz ,New York, Oct. 2005)

photo John Tchicai, Vitold Rek & Makaya NtshokoThe first personal contact between Vitold and John took place during the Europa Jazz Festival in Le Mans, France in May 1988. John was playing with Tchicai/Nicolai Quartet and Vitold with Tomasz Stanko's Freelectronic. For Vitold, seeing and hearing John playing on the stage was incredibly strong experience which restored his belief in his own music especially after having worked in Freelectronic. "John's appearance at Le Mans was the main reason for changing my musical direction and for starting to work on my own music harder and harder", explains Vitold.

Two years later Vitold was engaged as bassist in the Tchicai/Nicolai Quartet. The group played in Germany (SWR Radiobroadcast Mainz 1990), Poland (Jazz Festival in Kalisz 1990) and in Switzerland (Willisau Festival 1991).

CD "Satisfaction"The quartet played Nicolai's and Tchicai's compositions and still found room for improvised duo pieces which marked the real start of the future collaboration between John and Vitold. "One day John phoned me and asked if I could replace guitar player Pierre Dorge on the duo tour in Germany, which I did. Playing again with John was just great. We played his tunes and some of mine and then we recorded material in duo which was then released in 1992 on the CD Satisfaction on Enja Records. The production received very good reviews in the international music press. In the same year the duo performed at the Jazz Ost-West Festival in Nürnberg in Germany and in 1993 we played together in San Francisco, USA. On Satisfaction ("a focused album by two grand players in the European theater of jazz" ‐ Fred Bouchard, Jazz Times) you can find not only music but the poems of Tchicai which make the production more metaphysical and immortal." Later on John and Vitold recorded more music together:
The Polish Folk Explosion (Taso TMP 507, 2002) and
2x2 Tchicai, Rek, Berger (Taso TMP 505, 2001).

TchicaiRekNtshokoPeitz3In April 2006 Vitold played at the "Banlieues Bleues"jazz festival in Paris with John Tchicai's project "Scenario pour la regulation de l'injustice". It involved the musicians Makaya Ntshoko ‐ drums, Vitold Rek ‐ double bass, Rodolphe Burger ‐ guit., Yves Dormoy ‐ sax/computer and Antoine Berjeaut ‐ tp./computer. This concert was presented on ARTE TV and will be released as a DVD.

In Autumn 2004 John Tchicai, Vitold Rek and Makaya Ntshoko played numerous concerts (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) in Memorial of Peter Niklas Wilson (1957‐2003) and did a recording session in Radio Zurich, Switzerland with compositions of P.N. Wilson and their own.

The creative and dynamic partnership between John Tchicai and Vitold Rek lasted for 24 years and took them to the USA, France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and to Vitold's native Poland.

John dedicated this poem to Vitold:

Photo Vitold Rek & John Tchicai: Klaus Muempfer (Mainz, 1992)
Photo John Tchicai, Vitold Rek, Makaya Ntshoko: Vera Polaschegg (Vienna, Oct. 2004)
Photo John Tchicai Trio feat. Vitold Rek, Makaya Ntshoko @ Jazz Festival in Geitz, Germany, (2 June 2012): Herbert Weisrock

* (Elliott Simon, All About Jazz, New York)