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George Mraz

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 on alto saxophone. He attended the Prague Conservatory in 1961 studying bass violin and graduating in 1966. It is likely that his early exposure to these melodic instruments contributed to his mature lyric gifts as a bassist, an instrument he came to rather late in the game. "I was playing some weekend big band jobs," Mraz recalls, "and this bass player wasn't very good. Either that or he was a genius," he laughs, "because he seemed to always play the wrong notes

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Frantisek Uhlir: Story of my life

Read "Story of my life" reviewed by Edward Blanco

Recognized as one of the finest bassists in all of Europe, Czech Republic-born Frantisek Uhlir, presents Story of My Life, a self-produced personal project in celebration for turning seventy years-young in 2020. He does so in swinging fashion. The album booklet contains photographs with details of many proud moments throughout his life. An intentionally designed aspect ...

ARTICLE: SOCAL JAZZ

Darek Oleszkiewicz: Rolls-Royce Groovin'

Read "Darek Oleszkiewicz: Rolls-Royce Groovin'" reviewed by Jim Worsley

Inspiring greatness has long been the two-word association with the grand luxury of Rolls-Royce. Britain's entry into automobile finery has thus become benchmark terminology. To hear bassist Darek Oleszkiewicz interact, navigate, and improvise with today's finest jazz musicians is to understand why he has been deemed the Rolls-Royce of the modern day upright. Carrying the torch ...

ARTICLE: INTERVIEW

Richie Beirach: Indelible Memories and Thought-Provoking Reflections on a Life in Jazz, Part 2

Read "Richie Beirach: Indelible Memories and Thought-Provoking Reflections on a Life in Jazz, Part 2" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

Part 1 | Part 2 Richie Beirach hovers somewhat mysteriously in the pantheon of the great modern jazz pianists. Some of the others in that category from his generation (coming up in the 1960s/'70s), like Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, and Kenny Barron have greater celebrity, but Beirach easily qualifies alongside them as ...

ARTICLE: INTERVIEW

Richie Beirach: Indelible Memories and Thought-Provoking Reflections on a Life in Jazz, Part 1

Read "Richie Beirach: Indelible Memories and Thought-Provoking Reflections on a Life in Jazz, Part 1" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

Part 1 | Part 2 Richie Beirach hovers somewhat mysteriously in the pantheon of the great modern jazz pianists. Some of the others in that category from his generation (coming up in the 1960s/'70s), like Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, and Kenny Barron have greater celebrity, but Beirach easily qualifies alongside them as ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Grover Washington Jr.: Sacred Kind of Love: The Columbia Recordings

Read "Sacred Kind of Love: The Columbia Recordings" reviewed by Jakob Baekgaard

When saxophonist and composer Grover Washington Jr. (1943-1999) arrived at Columbia in 1986, he was already a fully formed artist. He had released a string of strong albums and had even landed a regular smash-hit with “Just the Two Us," his collaboration with singer Bill Withers. In other words, Washington had nothing to prove and could ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Richie Beirach-Gregor Huebner Duo and the WDR Big Band: Crossing Borders

Read "Crossing Borders" reviewed by Jack Bowers

The “borders" that are earmarked to be crossed in this new album by pianist Richie Bierach, violinist Gregor Huebner and Germany's superb WDR Big Band are both geographic and musical. The collaborative effort is intended, on the one hand, to bridge the gap between people of various ethnicities and backgrounds and help bring them together, and, ...

ARTICLE: UNDER THE RADAR

Invisible Man: Willis Conover and The Jazz Hour

Read "Invisible Man: Willis Conover and The Jazz Hour" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Willis Conover stood with a cordoned off pool of reporters and photographers, being kept at arms-length from celebrities and dignitaries on the White House lawn. There was no table assigned to him at Bill Clinton's 1993 celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival though Conover had been involved with George Wein's project from ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Art Pepper: Unreleased Art Pepper Vol. 10: Toronto

Read "Unreleased Art Pepper Vol. 10: Toronto" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Laurie Pepper, widow of alto saxophonist Art Pepper, achieved a life milestone in her brilliantly liberating sequel to Straight Life--The Story Of Art Pepper By Art And Laurie Pepper (Da Capo Press, 1983), where she rhetorically asked: “If Art hadn't had me there constantly assessing his mood, taking his aesthetic temperature, would he then ...

Meet Nora Sheehan Schaaf

Read "Meet Nora Sheehan Schaaf" reviewed by Tessa Souter and Andrea Wolper

Before we jump into November's column, we'd like to know: Are YOU a jazz super fan? If you are and you'd like to be featured in an upcoming column, click here and send us a message! Nora Sheehan Schaaf, along with her husband, Homer, has been going out to hear live jazz ...


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