Update: Friends and family are organizing a Second Line tribute in honor of Malinowski, and details can be found in this image below.
We are beyond saddened to report on the death of keyboardist Stephen Malinowski, who passed away last weekend at the age of 25. Just a week shy of his 26th birthday, June 23rd, Malinowski will be remembered for his friendly persona and enormous musical abilities.
Malinowski attended and graduated The Berklee College of Music, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance studying with Bruce Katz and Dave Limina. During his time at Berklee, he was a member of many different bands. At school he was in the P-Funk ensemble with now bass legend Mono Neon, as well as the Bob Marley Ensemble with Tubby Love.
His first out of school project was Blue Mountain Bustdown, a jam band from Allston, MA. The band consisted of Malinowski, Josh T. Carter now with Hayley Jane & The Primates, Ben Teters now of Palmslap, John Ellington, and Cory West. Blue Mountain Bustdown opened up for Dopapod, and even recorded their second album in the famed Dopapod Ridgemont House in Allston with guitarist Johnny Simon Jr.
Malinowski was also a member of iLa Mawana who consisted of Hayley Jane, Greg Toro, Jesse Hayes, and now-Boston concert promoter David Rosen. He also played as a member of the house band for weekly reggae residency called The Hub Dub, which regularly performed reggae in Boston, and welcomed members of Dub Apocalypse, Tubby Love, Dan Africano of John Brown’s Body and Scott Flynn now of Pretty Lights and Odezsa.
After his time in Boston, Malinowski moved to NYC and joined Brooklyn powerhouse band Turkuaz. With Turkuaz, Malinowski played many memorable shows, including their first ever performance at Mountain Jam. Malinowski then left NY to follow his true passion of being a New Orleans piano player. Once arriving in NOLA he continued to thrive, forming an organ trio called Solar Strut with Joe Gelini and Chris Alford. He played with Cha Wa Band, recently performing in Tokyo, and performed regularly with June Yamagishi of Papa Grows Funk. He was also the touring keyboardist for the globally touring blues star Ana Popovic. He recently played with her as far as Tokyo.
Turkuaz drummer Michelangelo Carubba shared a few thoughts on his time with Malinowski. Read his eulogy below.
“I heard the words, “Steve passed away”. A disorienting few seconds of white noise and confusion set in, and when my mind could function again, I wracked my brain to remember all the Steves in my life. There aren’t many, but the two or three I have are all very special to me. When it was made clear that Steve Malinowski had passed, the white noise and confusion set it again. We had to go on stage a few minutes later.
Steve Malinowski was a special human being. He always had a smile on. Everything was always all good. He just wanted to play. He loved music so deeply and intimately, that it felt to me like he had this secret love affair with music that I still only dream of having. I remember driving to Turkuaz shows back in the day and he would put on Jessica by the Allman Brothers and pound out the piano solo on my dashboard with his hands. All the while wearing the biggest grin that his face could handle. He was such a sweetheart. He looked out for his friends. He was loyal. He would give the shirt off his back for you, even when he had but a penny to spare. I watched him do it countless times.
The people that knew him and played with him, all felt his presence and purpose. He was a beacon of light and a bringer of joy. It comes as no surprise now that so many have come forward and echoed my very same sentiments. My time with Steve was similar to all of our friends’ time with him, Im sure. People that jammed with him once at a house party back at Berklee. People that are touring the world on the biggest stages possible. A soul like that comes around only so often. These sentiments are a testament to the man and musician he was.
I’ll miss our long talks during long drives. I’ll miss his laugh. I’ll miss his smile. I’ll miss his music. Ill be forever thankful for him taking me to see Tedeschi Trucks Band for the first time. I’ll be forever thankful for having played so much music together. I’ll be forever indebted to the universe for allowing his light to shine so close to me. I’ll never take for granted the path that is illuminated by that light. That path is love. Rest in peace, Steve.
Malinowski died in his home in New Orleans. Our hearts go out to all of his beloved friends and family during this difficult time.