In 1961, Karolak switched from saxophone back to piano. In 1962, formed his own trio and started recording his own music. This trio become the premier jazz band in Poland and backed most Western/American artist visiting Poland. Among them Annie Ross, Ray Charles, and Don Ellis with whom he recorded.
In 1963, he started playing with Ptaszyn Wróblewski’s Polish Jazz Quartet. In 1964 Karolak (under the name of the Kurylewicz Quintet) recorded an album titled Go Right - this was the first Polish jazz LP ever released. In 1966, he left Poland for Sweden where he played rock and blues in music clubs in order to, in his own words, "make enough money to buy an apartment and a Hammond B-3" which he eventually bought in 1973. From then on, Karolak spent more time composing and arranging though he did continue to collaborate and perform with others. He cooperated with famed violinist and future Miles Davis alum Michał Urbaniak in Europe and the U.S.
While in Western Europe he also played with Red Mitchell, Putte Wickman, Leroy Lowe and others. He then returned to Poland and co-led the group Mainstream and worked as a composer-arranger for the Polish Radio Studio Jazz Orchestra. In the 1980s established, with Tomasz Szukalski and Czeslaw Bartkowski, a "superformation"; 'The Killers'. The resulting recording was voted the best Polish jazz record of the decade. Since the 1990s Karolak has played with the guitarist Jaroslaw Śmietana (who counts among his fans Pat Metheny), and recorded three records with him. With Piotr Baron and Zbigniew Lewandowski, Karolak has started "The High Bred Jazz Trio".
He has played in numerous concerts with Leszek Cichoński’s 'Guitar Workshop' and continues to write, arrange, and perform in Poland and abroad. Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski awarded him the Krzyz Kawalerski Order Odrodzenia Polski (Cavalier's Cross of Polonia Restituta Order) Poland's second highest civilian honor after the Order Orla Bialego (Order of the White Eagle). Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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