Division: Contemporary Music
Program: Jazz Studies
Darek “Oles” Oleszkiewicz was born on February 20, 1963 in Wroclaw, Poland. At the age of five Oles began his music education at the State Music School in Wroclaw. Piano was his first instrument, but later he played guitar, electric bass and finally at eighteen years old, he switched to accoustic bass. While in his teens he played with amateur groups, evolving in popular music styles from rock, blues, jazz-rock to straight ahead jazz. In the early 1980′s, Oles participated in various jazz festivals and national competitions for young musicians. In 1983, he was the most awarded musician at the Jazz Juniors in Cracow, winning the first individual prize, first prize for jazz composition and a second prize in jazz combo category. Later that year Oles was invited by Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski, a jazz legend in Poland, to join saxophonist’s quartet on tour.
In the following five years Oles was working steadily with some of the best jazz bands in the country such as: Zbigniew Namyslowski Quartet, Tomasz Szukalski Quartet, Henryk Majewski Quintet, Wojciech Karolak Trio and Andrzej Jagodzinski Trio and Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski Quartet. With those groups he recorded for Polish Jazz, Polskie Nagrania, East Wind and also for the radio and television in Poland and abroad. Darek was touring extensively in Poland, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Cuba, Mexico and performed at major festivals, concerts and jazz club venues.
In 1988, Oles arrived in Los Angeles with a simple plan in mind: to broaden his musical horizon. One year later he received a full scholarship from California Institute Of The Arts and began studies with the legendary bassist Charlie Haden. After graduation in 1992, he accepted a teaching position at the Institute, where he has been conducting jazz ensembles and teaching bass ever since. Since 2002 Oles has been a jazz faculty member at the University Of California in Irvine.
Aside from his teaching duties, Oles has been very active as a performer and became one of the most sought after bass players on the West Coast. “Oles” (his American nick-name) had the opportunity to perform and record with the greatest masters in jazz. A partial list of his collaborations include: Brad Mehldau, Billy Higgins, Pat Metheny, Joe Lovano, Eddie Henderson, Charles Lloyd, John Abercrombie, Bennie Maupin, Lee Konitz, Peter Erskine, Alan Pasqua, Bennie Wallace, Victor Lewis, Harvey Mason, Dave Grusin, Art Farmer, Horace Silver, Alice Coltrane, Ravi Coltrane, James Newton, Arthur Blythe, Lew Tabackin, Steve Kuhn, Gary Smulyan, Ronnie Cuber, Billy Hart, Kevin Hays, Munyungo Jackon, Steve Hass, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Marian McPartland, Janis Siegel, Bob Brookmeyer, Curtis Fuller, Roy McCurdy, Tom Harrell, Larry Goldings, Bill Stewart, Chris Potter, Kei Akagi, Billy Childs, Bob Sheppard, Joe LaBarbera, Bill Cunliffe, Patrice Rushen, Bennie Golson, Piotr Baron, Teri Lynn Carrington, Buddy De Franco, Terry Gibbs, Anthony Wilson Nonet and Los Angeles Jazz Quartet.
With these and many others artists Oles has recorded approximately 100 albums and performed hundreds of concerts throughout America, Europe and Asia. Several of those recordings were nominated for Grammy Awards.
In 2003, Oles was also nominated to Fryderyk’s Awards in Poland in the category “Jazz Musician Of The Year”.
Oles’s first recording project as a leader “Like A Dream” with Brad Mehldau and Bennie Maupin was released by Cryptogramophone Records in 2004 and gained a critical acclaim worldwide. In 2005 Darek “Oles” Oleszkiewicz was voted the “Best Accoustic Bassist” in the Jazz Top readers poll in Jazz Forum European Magazine.