June 13, 2024


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George Mraz Czechia – Bassist has died at the age of 77: Video, Photos

It is with a deep sense of loss and heavy heart that we inform you legendary Jazz bassist has passed away on September 16, 2021. To read all the details surrounding George Mraz’s cause of death, stay up with us.

The saxophonist and jazz bassist was announced dead at the age of 77, following health issues. Further details concerning George’s death will be updated upon confirmation.

A native of the Czech Republic, George Mraz was born in 1944. He began his musical studies on violin at age seven and started playing jazz in high school. He attended the Prague Conservatory in 1961 studying bass violin and graduating in 1966.

While studying at the Prague Conservatory Mraz was deeply moved by the Voice Of America radio broadcasts of Willis Conover, who was his connection to a vast new world of possibilities across the ocean. “The first jazz I ever heard was actually Louis Armstrong when I was about twelve years old. They had an hour of his music on one Sunday in between all these light operettas and stuff they played on the radio in the Czech republic (then Czechoslovakia). Then the strange voice of Satchmo singing was quite a shock. ‘How can he get away with a voice like that?’ I thought. But by the time the hour was over I decided I liked it better than anything I heard that day, so I started looking into jazz”.

“The Voice Of America came on midnight for an hour or so, and my listening equipment wasn’t so great, and it was hard to make out the bass. So I was listening to all the instruments, and how it all worked together, rather than just focusing on the bass. I’ve really been influenced by everything I’ve heard, but of course I paid special attention to Ray Brown, Scott LaFaro, Paul Chambers, and Ron Carter.” Mraz just naturally gravitated towards the music, and became a seasoned veteran of the clubs where he could perform the music that consumed his imagination almost every night. While studying at the Prague Conservatory, George was performing with the top jazz groups in Prague.

After graduating from the Prague Conservatory, George went to Munich and played clubs and concerts throughout Germany and Middle Europe with Benny Bailey, Carmel Jones, Leo Wright, Mal Waldron, Hampton Hawes, Jan Hammer and others. 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 George 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. In the late seventies George worked with Stan Getz, New York Jazz Quartet, Zoot Sims, Bill Evans, John Abercrombie and for over ten years with Tommy Flanagan.

George Mraz has a profound gift for the acoustic bass. And while this musician’s musician has been a stalwart presence on the modern jazz scene practically from the moment he first landed on these shores from his native Czechoslovakia, in the eyes of the general public his work is still somewhat undervalued. Perhaps because the self-effacing qualities he brings to the bandstand mirror the quiet character of the man stage left-onstage or off, he eschews the spotlight.

With his customary selflessness, Mraz allows as how he never demurred from approaching projects as a leader. “I always wanted to do some kind of projects on my own,” Mraz insists, “I just never got around to it.” And given the who’s who of jazz masters who’ve made him their first call bassist for three decades (including the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae, Clark Terry, Stan Getz, Slide Hampton, Elvin Jones, Joe Henderson, and Joe Lovano among many others), that’s hardly surprising. After leaving Flanagan, George went on to work with Joe Henderson, Hank Jones, Grand Slam (Jim Hall, Joe Lovano, Lewis Nash), DIM (Directions In Music with Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, Roy Hargrove), Mc Coy Tyner, Joe Lovano , Manhattan Trinity, Hank Jones and others.

He also has lead his own quartet with pianist Richie Beirach, drummer Billy Hart, and the lyrically riveting tenor man Rich Perry. (The quartet may be heard on Mraz’s Milestone debut Jazz; Beirach and Hart are on the trio date My Foolish Heart, and Perry on Bottom Lines, the 1997 Mraz session featuring favorite works by fellow bassists Jaco Pastorius, Ron Carter, Marcus Miller, Charles Mingus, Buster Williams, and Steve Swallow, plus George’s originals. “George always plays the exact right note you want to hear,” says Beirach, “and he plays the bass as though he invented it.” But Mraz does so without drawing attention to himself, and while he is hardly an invisible presence, his sense of what’s appropriate is so sure, he can make himself positively translucent. “Even when he’s doing nothing more than walking four to the bar, his choice of notes is so perfect, it’s like he’s telling a little story in back of the soloist,” enthuses his producer Todd Barkan.

George Mraz has recorded with Oscar Peterson, Tommy Flanagan, Roland Hanna, Hank Jones, Charles Mingus, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, NYJQ, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, Toshiko Akioshi, Kenny Drew, Barry Harris, Tete Montoliu, Jimmy Rowles, Kenny Barron, Larry Willis, Richie Beirach, McCoy Tyner, Adam Makowicz, Jimmy Smith, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Pepper Adams, Art Pepper, Warne Marshe, Phil Woods, Grover Washington Jr., Archie Shepp, Dave Leibman, Joe Lovano, Jim Hall, John Abercrombie, John Scofield, Kenny Burrell, Larry Coryell, Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker, Art Farmer, Lew Soloff, Jon Faddis, Jimmy Knepper, Bob Brookmeyer, Jon Hendricks, Carmen McRae, Helen Merrill, Elvin Jones and many others.

George Mraz was born on September 9, 1944, in Pisek, Czechia. He was known as a jazz bassist and alto saxophonist. Besides that, he gained more fame as a member of Oscar Peterson‘s group.

Bassist George Mraz's Cause of Death Following Health Issues
Image Source: Tunefind

Mraz worked with Michel Petrucciani, Stephane Grappelli, Pepper Adams, Stan Getz, Tommy Flanagan, Joe Henderson, John Abercrombie, Jimmy Raney, Chet Baker, Richie Beirach, and John Scofield, among others.

During the 1970s, George was a well-known member of the New York Jazz Quartet and The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. He also worked as a member of Quest in the 1980s.

The Oscar Peterson’s member also appeared with Joe Lovano, Paul Motian, and Hank Jones on Lovano’s records I’m All For You and Joyous Encounter. He was also known for performing solos.

Is George Mraz’s Cause of Death Related to Illness?

While many fans are searching for George Mraz’s cause of death, some reports claim he has died after a battle with health issues. His family has not released any statement surrounding Mraz’s death cause at this time.

US day News is working to provide more information and collect the latest updates surrounding George Mraz‘s death, so stay up with us.

On July 8, 2016,  George endured seven hours of complex surgery on his pancreas, and while he was in the hospital, he suffered a heart attack.

Bassist George Mraz's Cause of Death Following Health Issues
Oscar Peterson’s member George Mraz sadly passed away on September 16, 2021.

George’s albums as a leader include: My Foolish Heart, “Catching Up” on Alfa Records Jazz,” Bottom Lines, Morava, and Duke’s Place, all on Milestone Records.

The legendary bassist studied bass at the Prague Conservatory as well as Berklee. After moving to New York, he became a member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and worked with Stan Getz.

It is a difficult time for Mraz’s family and friends. Words cannot express our deep sorrow from the passing of the great musician, and we ask you all to keep George, his family, his friends, and all of his loved ones in your thoughts through this agonizing time.

Reactions to George Mraz’s Death

Soon after the heartbreaking news of George Mraz’s death was revealed, devasted friends and fans stated their condolences on social media and paid poignant tributes to him.

Bassist George Mraz's Cause of Death Following Health Issues
Image Source: George Mraz Facebook

Kurt Rosenwinkel wrote: “Greatest thing in my life is the people I meet. George Mraz, you knew everybody, and you loved everything. I laughed, and I cried with you. Love always.”

Oscar Peterson tweeted: “A massive loss for the music world. The great George Mraz left us today. Our love and sincere condolences to his family and loved ones. He surely left his mark.”

“Very sorry to hear the loss of Czech-born bassist George Mraz at 77. He was one of the greatest bassists of his era, having played with everyone from Oscar Peterson and Stan Getz to John Abercrombie and John Scofield with unparalleled musicality. He will be sorely missed. RIP,” one fan tweeted.

Dave Holland wrote: “I’m recalling many fond memories of George Mraz today after hearing of his passing. We both arrived as immigrants the USA in 1968 following the call of the music. I always enjoyed seeing & hearing him play. He was a great accompanist, a fluent soloist & had a great sense of humor.”

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