George Mraz performed with the world's jazz greats

George Mraz

Czech-born musician George Mraz begun his musical studies in Prague but in 1968 the world opened up to him and he ended up playing with the world's jazz greats. He spent his life in the United States, where died last week at the age of 77.

A native of the Czech Republic, George Mraz was born in 1944. He began his musical studies on the violin at age seven and started playing jazz in high school, after getting hooked on Luis Armstrong. He attended the Prague Conservatory studying bass violin and graduating in 1966.

After his studies he went to Munich and played clubs and concerts throughout Germany and Central Europe. In 1968 George Mraz came to Boston on a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music and played at Lennie's on the Turnpike and the Jazz Workshop with such artists as Clark Terry, Herbie Hancock, Joe Williams and Carmen McRae. In the winter of 1969 he got a call from Dizzy Gillespie to join his group in New York. After a few weeks with Dizzy, George went on the road with Oscar Peterson for about two years. After that he worked with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra for the next six years.

He became what’s known in the music world as a first-call player — the first person you’d call if you wanted a top-notch bassist for a club date or a recording session. It was a status he held for decades, appearing on around 1,000 albums in the course of his career.

His albums as a leader include: "Catching Up" on ALFA Records, “Mraz Jazz", "My Foolish Heart", "Bottom Lines”, "Duke’s Place” and "Morava”, all on Milestone Records. Other releases include George Mraz Quartet “Jazz at Prague Castle” on Multisonic (2012), George Mraz and David Hazeltine CD “Your Story”on Cube-Metier.