The late Tom Mrozinski of Minnesota, leader of The Mrozinski Brothers Aleatoric Ensemble, started his polka career at the age of 11, when he took up the clarinet and started to sit in with his dad’s band at age 12. It wasn’t long before other musicians noticed Tom’s Talent and asked him to join their bands. He often performed with Frank Pastuszak’s Polka Pals and Rodger Stigney’s Polish Brass, two of Minnesota’s popular polka bands.
When Li’l Wally came to town, he often called upon Tom to perform with him. While attending the University of Wisconsin as a Music Education Major, Tom played weekend Polka Jobs with Joe Tamaszewski’s Northeasterners. The band recorded on the Studio Five Label. His partner on trumpet was future brother-in-law Bill Czerniak. In 1969, Tom graduated from college and took a job as a recording engineer at Studio Five Recordings, engineering and performing on many recordings as a studio musician.
In 1971 Tom and his brother Pete Jr. formed the Mrozinski Brothers. During the 70s and 80s the band recorded many original numbers and were featured at numerous national polka events throughout the country. Tom enjoyed performing for the crowds at these affairs and often featured memorable antics while on state, such as Pink (the band’s official color) band uniforms, helium-filled blimps floating around the hall and others. The word aleatoric describes Tom’s philosophy of
polka entertainment. Its definition is “organized confusion.”
In 1975, Tom established his own recording studio and label, Aleatoric Records which for the next dozen years was Minnesota’s most popular recording studio for Polish Style Polka Bands. The label has produced albums by Li’l Richard, Renata & Girls Girls Girls, Bill Czerniak’s Polka Soul and the Dobosenski Brothers & Cavaliers.
Tom fought a life long battle with kidney disease. He was born with only one functioning kidney, which gradually had to be replaced with a transplant at age 25. As time passed, this kidney began to fail. In August of 1988 he underwent a second kidney transplant. However, the second miracle of life was not to be. Tom passed away at the University of Minnesota Hospital on October 23, 1988. Tom is survived by his wife, Jean, and two sons, Steve and Kenny.
Tom Mrozinski will be remembered as one of the greatest innovators in the polka industry, his promotional ideas, musical arrangements, and showmanship. His style was often imitated, but never duplicated. He remains a model and inspiration to many in the polka industry. Tom was posthumously inducted into the IPA Polka Music Hall of Fame during the Silver Anniversary Banquet on Saturday, August 7, 1993.