George Mraz, a consummate jazz bassist, seasoned composer and virtuoso soloist for the likes of Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Coltrane and others, has died. He was 77.
Mraz died of congestive heart failure at a San Francisco hospital Nov. 16, according to an associate.
He was known for his virtuosity as a bassist and for his close collaboration with Corea, a prominent polymath and leader of the quartet trio long before it rebranded itself as Return to Forever. For Corea, Mraz was essential in the group’s formative years, including on the trio’s landmark “Out of the Blue” album in 1972.
Despite those foundation years, Mraz was considered a sole figure on this band in the band’s current incarnation, which performed on Corea’s album “Three Strings” and in June on “Bass.” With bandmate Nels Cline, he frequently acted as vocalist and, as he described it in an interview with Zoli Music, “auditioned” for the role.
During his career, Mraz recorded more than 20 albums, released both as a leader and an associate. He was one of the primary trumpeters for former Sun Ra Arkestra drummer Billy Higgins, whose Mraz-Mitchell duo released several albums in the ’70s. Mraz also met Miles Davis while touring in his band in the ’70s, according to a New York Times profile.
George Mraz Son, or George Mraz, may be defined as a versatile bassist who could create instrumental pairs with Corea, performing jazz with his signature voicings and melodies.
“Just a really versatile player,” John Coltrane said of Mraz in an interview quoted in CNN’s Obituary, an online tribute. “He didn’t draw distinctions between jazz and anything else. He just played all the time.”
Funeral services will be held Sunday. Donations to El Loco Theater in Atlanta can be made in lieu of flowers.