George Mraz

My Foolish Heart

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    8
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Bassist George Mraz nicely balances his roles as featured instrumentalist and trio member in this strong group performance from 1995. He is unquestionably a compelling soloist, as is made clear in his extended bowing features on "Passion Flower" and "Haunted Heart," and on the brilliant duet with drummer Billy Hart on Thelonious Monk's "Ask Me Now." Satisfying as these pieces are, though, the best part of this CD is the calmly insistent pulse generated by the trio overall. Mraz, Hart, and pianist Richie Beirach form a superb group that is a direct descendant of the inspired edition of pianist Bill Evans' trio that had Scott LaFaro on bass (1959 to 1961). The Evans parallel is explicit, as the trio takes on four tracks associated with the LaFaro-era group. As with much of the work of the Evans trio, Mraz and company couple a quietly, intense swing with a brooding romanticism. Like LaFaro with Evans, Mraz is in the forefront of the trio, but in a way that brings into relief the overall interplay of the players. The recording captures this interaction superbly, with Beirach languorous and introspective, Hart understated yet very active, and Mraz dark and lyrical. There is the occasional departure from the reflective mood of My Foolish Heart, including the opening track, a bright treatment of "Alice in Wonderland"; otherwise, the CD's more pervasive atmosphere is one best appreciated alone, when lights are low.

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