George Mraz

Over the course of his 30-year career, bassist George Mraz has worked with some of the most respected names in jazz. You’ll see him listed as a sideman on sessions led by Bill Evans, Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Tommy Flanagan and many others. But having grown up in Czechoslovakia in a family with roots in Moravia, he spent his childhood surrounded by music that could hardly be further removed from jazz, and on his fifth album as a leader, he brings those two traditions together. Assisted by pianist Emil Viklicky, drummer Billy Hart and, most intriguingly, vocalist and cymbalom player Zuzana Lapcikova, Mraz presents a program of traditional Moravian folk songs and melodies in jazz settings. Swing takes a backseat to melody for the most part, and the effect is both lovely and gently haunting.