Remembering George Mraz

September 09, 1944 – September 16, 2021

 

A tribute to the brilliant bassist

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Bassist George Mraz passed away on Sept. 16, 2021, at the age of 77.

He was born as Jiri Mraz on Sept. 9, 1944, in Czechoslovakia (which is now in the Czech Republic), studied classical bass from the age of seven, and then decided to switch to jazz after hearing an hour of Louis Armstrong recordings on the radio when he was 12.

Mraz attended the Prague Conservatory during 1961-66, made his first recordings in 1964, moved to Munich in 1966, played throughout Europe for two years, and in 1968 permanently moved to the United States to attend the Berklee School of Music.

Mraz worked with Dizzy Gillespie in 1969 and was a member of the Oscar Peterson Trio during 1970-71.

From then on he was in great demand, working with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchesra for six years, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Bill Evans, Tommy Flanagan, John Abercormbie, Carmen McRae, Clark Terry, Elvin Jones, Joe Henderson, and countless others, appearing on over 500 jazz record dates.

George Mraz, who led 15 albums of his own, was the perfect sideman, giving bands a large sound, impeccable time, and a swinging style.

Here is the great bassist in a trio with pianist Sir Roland Hanna and drummer Mel Lewis at the Village Vanguard performing Hanna’s “A Story Often Told But Seldom Heard.”

-Scott Yanow

 
 

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