The Official Biography of Ryszard (Richard) Ludomir Kruza
Richard Ludomir Kruza was born in Chojnice, Poland on July 16, 1939. Starting with his first memories as a child music had an influence on his life. His grandfather was a organist and played at the local church, Richards father also played the piano and his mother was a professional classical pianist.
Richard was borne during the height of the Second World War. Because of the on going war Richard had no toys to play with and a battlefield is no playground. Young Richard’s family often had no other way to pass the time than to gather around the gramophone and share music together. He was a strong child and chose to turn towards music to find and create the surroundings he needed.
He first played the piano at the age of six; it immediately became clear that he had pure natural talent. He received his first award at the festival of mature musicians in Bydgoszcz in 1955. He moved to Gdansk in 1957 to study architecture, during that time he also started to cooperate with ZAK (one of the most dynamic and progressive art workshops of Poland), whose membership was comprised of such famous trend setting artists as Andrzej Cybulski, Krzysztof Komeda, Zbigniew Namysłowski, Włodzimierz Nahorny and many others. It was the perfect environment for his philosophy of art to develop, and in the process he was leading a number of important groups all along the coast, and composed the original score to theatrical performances such as Bim Bom, Co-to, Jazz & Poezja, and To Tu, just to name a few. He promptly became one of the leaders of cultural life in Gdansk.
While attending the international Festival Jazz Nad Odrą he was awarded first prize in both group and instrumental categories, these accomplishments launched his professional career. As a result of his talent and integrity he became one of a predominant few who represented the second generation of Polish Jazz, and has been internationally recognized as the best vibes player in Europe.
Richard graduated as an architect in 1967 although he did not working as such: opting to pursue his love of the music instead. Not much later he met with Hungarian world famous bass player Aladar Pege, they started working together and Richard subsequently moved to Hungary. Once in Hungary he formed a combo with composer and pianist Janos Gonda, and were awarded second prize at the Alba Regia festival (Szekesfehervar, Hungary). Richard has played with the very best Hungarian musicians, and continued on the path that his talent dictated to form his own quartet; which proved to be highly successful and was invited to perform into most countries in Europe.
While still under the spell of John Coltrane he perfectuated the vibraphone implementing the „free vibration” system. He started teaching ensemble playing, improvisation and vibraphone with the jazz faculty in Bela Bartók College of Music in Budapest. During 1970 he was again connected with the theatre when he wrote music or „Death of the King” by Eugene Ionesco, the show was highly successful and was performed on many international festivals. Richard was always looking for new opportunities and one of these led him all the way to Toronto, Canada, where he moved to the Bloor Street area, a district widely regarded as the heart of the Canadian Jazz and poetry community. He was teaching for the „Talent Agency” where he was well received, however after three years he felt that it was time to return to Europe.
Upon his return to Hungary in 1967 he was quickly offered the post as the director of the National Light Music Center. However, Richard chose instead to found his own studio. Among his many talents Richard is also an accomplished writer having written two books „The School of Arrangement”, „The Vibraphone”, and has also co-authored another book with his student Gabor Banay called The Synthesizer in Musical Practice. Aside from his extensive work in Hungary he traveled all across Europe working as a the musical director and arranger for a number of various venues all across the continent including the European Jazz Federation.
During the period between 1985 and 1989 he dealt extensively with Latin music and was again leading the famous Latin combo band. Lending his talent to yet another format he was the Musical Producer for a plethora of LPs and Compact Disks of Hungarian musicians. Always moving forward he composed the original sound tracks for a number of big bands in Europe, and conducted the big band of the European Broadcasting Union.
In 1996 he completed his lengthy work of perfecting the articulation of the instrument (Polyvibe); this also led him to realize that the perfection of the vibraphone had not yet been achieved, so he constructed a completely original modified electronic modulation system creating a revolutionary new dimension in his music to explore.
In 1996 Richard Kruza and Milt Jackson performed a joint concert before an audience of several thousands, giving an unforgettable presentation. His ability to make the marriage between mainstream and modern music successful, in addition to the inimitable sound of the instrument that he himself revolutionized and perfected makes Richard Kruza one of the most important and recognized players of his instrument in our times.