The percussionist and composer Janusz M. Stefański is highly regarded among a strict elite of jazz percussionists in Europe. In his more than 40 years of work as a percussionist, composer and band-leader, he has gained international recognition among both musicians and critics.
He made his debut in 1966 during the festival “Jazz on the Oder” in Wrocław, where he performed with Zbigniew Seifert band. He then collaborated with Poland’s leading jazz ensembles: "Tomasz Stańko Quintet”, “Polish Radio Jazz Studio” directed by Jan “Ptaszyn” Wróblewski, “Zbigniew Namysłowski Quartet”, and “The Quartet” (T. Szukalski, S. Kulpowicz, P. Jarzębski), with which in 1980 he gave concerts in the famous “Village Vanguard” club in New York. From 1973, he also performed with several bands in Germany and Austria: "Hans Koller Free Sound”, “Radio Jazz Group Stuttgart” , or ”Zbigniew Seifert Variouspheres”. In 1981 he signed a 3-year contract with “Vienna Art Orchestra”, with which he embarked on a European tour, playing among others at “Jazz Jamboree ’81” and the “All Souls Jazz Festival” in Cracow.
The introduction of the martial law in Poland found the artist in Frankfurt am Main, and since that time he has resided with his wife (a painter) and two daughters in Germany. He visited Poland again only 12 years later, in 1993, for Zbyszek Namysłwoski’s anniversary concerts. During his thirty years of residence in Germany he has played in such bands as “Polish Jazz Ensemble” (L. Żądło, V. Sendecki, B. Suchanek), “Wolfgang Lackerschmid Mallet Connection”, “Heinz Sauer Quartet”, “Manfred Bründel Basslap”, and “Emil Mangelsdorf Quartett”. He also took part in radio recording sessions for the NDR Big Band. He has collaborated with such musicians as: Wolfgang Dauner, Georg Grunz, Karl Berger, Michael Herr, Joachim Kühn, Ken Werner, Joachim Kaufmann, Jan Jarczyk, Jasper van`t Hof, Bob Degen, Joerg Reiter, Joachim Kaufmann, Carla Bley, Dave Friedman, Frank Tusa, Rick Rosie, Vitold Rek, Steve Swallow, Miroslav Vitous, Albert Mangelsdorff, Woody Shaw, Kenny Wheller, Ack van Rooyen, Jack Walwarth, Harry Beckett, Matthias Schubert, Adam Pieronczyk, Christof Lauer, John Tchicai, Dave Liebman, Carlos Ward, Charlie Mariano, Paul Heller, and many others. For several years he has also performed with his own band: “Janusz M. Stefanski JazzArt”. In the autumn of 2009 he toured in Canada as a member of the “International Polish Jazz Group”.
Apart from archive recordings for radio and television broadcasters in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Canada, Janusz Stefański has also recorded more than 70 LPs and CDs, and performed at more than 120 major jazz festivals in Europe, India and Canada. He also composed music for three German TV films. He was the
initiator, organiser and artistic director of the concerts closing “Book Fair 2000” in Frankfurt am Main and of the “German-Polish Jazz Jamboree 2005”, also in Frankfurt, featuring 30 jazz musicians from both countries.
In 2003 in Wiesbaden, Janusz Maria Stefański received the Jazz Award of the Ministry of Science and Art. Music studies: Experimental Piano Studio in Cracow 1952-60, State Secondary Music School in Cracow (graduated in 1966), State Higher School of Music in Cracow (degree in 1972), Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA (1975) Teaching posts: Lecturer at jazz workshops in Poland, Hungary, Germany, Canada and South Africa. Since 1993 he has taught percussion and rhythm theories at the Jazz Department of the State Higher School of Music at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. In February 2009 he was granted a professorship of that university.