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George Mraz (b. 9 Sep 1944 -- ) is one of today's top jazz bassists. In particular his style is sought-after for its lyric, melodic style. He has recorded with dozens of jazz stars, including pianists Hank Jones, Roland Hanna, Tommy Flanagan, and McCoy Tyner, vocalist Carmen McRae, trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Clark Terry, trombonist Slide Hampton, drummer Elvin Jones, violinist Stephane Grappelli, and tenor sax players Joe Henderson and Joe Lovano. In the late 1990's Mraz signed with Milestone Records and has 5 albums as a leader to date.

He was born as Jirí Mraz in Písek, Czechoslovakia, and he displayed an early musical talent, picking up the violin when he was 7. In high school he played alto saxophone, getting good enough to gig around professionally. He tells the story of how he came to the bass on his record label's website1:

"I was playing some weekend big band jobs, and this bass player wasn't very good. Either that or he was a genius, because he seemed to always play the wrong notes. Every now and then you'd think he must play some of the right notes, just by accident. But, no. So I picked up the bass on a break and tried to find the notes. I thought, 'It's not that difficult.' So I got a bass and began playing a little bit. Next thing I knew, I was in the Prague Conservatory."

After the Prague Conservatory and some playing in Munich, Germany, Mraz moved to the United States, enrolling in the Berklee College of Music in 1968. Subsequently, he toured with Oscar Peterson (1970-1972), the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra (1973-1976), and Stan Getz (1974-1975). His melodic style and his ability to "always play the exact right note you want to hear"2 gave him the reputation to freelance as a first-rate touring and recording bass player.

1 Quotation from http://www.fantasyjazz.com/html/mrazbio.html
2 Richie Beirach1, Mraz's pianist on (at least) his album Jazz.

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