George Mraz has died aged 77

Czech media are reporting the death at 77 of the iconic former Oscar Peterson bassist George Mraz who had lived in the US since 1968. The Budejcka Drbna website reports that Camilla, Mraz's wife, confirmed the sad news on social media. Mraz, who …

Published: 17 Sep 2021. Updated: 40 days.

Czech media are reporting the death at 77 of the iconic former Oscar Peterson bassist George Mraz who had lived in the US since 1968. The Budejcka Drbna website reports that Camilla, Mraz's wife, confirmed the sad news on social media. Mraz, who had suffered considerable health problems in recent years, had a stellar jazz career.

In addition to his own records he appeared on many acclaimed records with a range of leaders, including on Dee Dee Bridgewater 1970s classic Afro Blue, John Abercrombie's M, Toshiko Akiyoshi's Time Stream and Joe Lovano's I'm All For You. Born Jiří Mráz in what was then Czechoslovakia the bassist also worked with Pepper Adams, Stan Getz, McCoy Tyner and many others at the very highest level.

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Stacey Kent, Songs From Other Places, Candid ****

There is a certain paradox if not irony at play on an album where covers are a theme that the best song is an original that you won't have heard before. That is certainly the case on Stacey Kent's latest Songs From Other Places because to zoom in …

Published: 17 Sep 2021. Updated: 40 days.

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There is a certain paradox if not irony at play on an album where covers are a theme that the best song is an original that you won't have heard before. That is certainly the case on Stacey Kent's latest Songs From Other Places because to zoom in on one song only 'Tango In Macao' kidnaps your ears and sounds like a standard and certainly operates like an instant classic already. The work of Mr Stacey ''big Jim'' Tomlinson and Nobel laureate Sir Kazuo Ishiguro, not just on a par with their best song together since their masterpiece 'The Changing Lights', it's even better. A song of playful reproach clinging on to hope 'Tango In Macao' turns to sardonic humour certainly when the Duchess is given to sing the line ''you said we'd tango in Macao but we've done nothing of the sort'' which is one of the ouchiest of lines written by the literary giant possibly ever in a song. Stacey gamely refuses to ham it up too much although the song is crying out for lots of melodrama and walking the line makes the lyric work while making whoopee with some of the rest of the one-sided badinage when the mood lightens and the rhymes romp along from ''now'' to land gleefully on ''before the days of Chairman Mao''. But come to think of it the often deliciously waspish tone of Ish's wonderful Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall (Faber and Faber, 2009) could be read instructively for tone and more than a little insight alongside 'Tango in Macao'. Fans of Graham Harvey may well have separation anxiety given that US player Art Hirahara is the Songs From Other Places pianist instead. Excellent he is. As for the standards they don't delight as much. However, Stacey's moving version of 'American Tune' displays once again what a world-class jazz singer she is – not that that's ever in doubt.