Miroslav Ladislav Vitouš (born 6 December 1947) is a Czech jazz bassist.
Born in Prague, Vitouš began the violin at age six, switching to piano after about three years, and then to bass at age fourteen. As a young man in Europe, Vitouš was a competitive swimmer. One of his early music groups was the Junior Trio with his brother Alan on drums and Jan Hammer on keyboards. He studied music at the Prague Conservatory under František Pošta, and won a music contest in Vienna that gave him a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music.
In 1967, in Chicago, Miles Davis saw Vitouš playing with Clark Terry and invited him to join his group for a residency at The Village Gate in New York City.
Vitouš recorded his debut album Infinite Search for Embryo (later issued on Atlantic as Mountain In The Clouds) in 1969 with Joe Henderson, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, and Joe Chambers. In 1970, he also recorded Purple for Columbia with McLaughlin, Billy Cobham and Joe Zawinul.
In 1970, he was a founding member of the group Weather Report. Vitouš was replaced by Alphonso Johnson in 1973, later stating “I enjoyed the beginning of it very much, but it turned into a little bit of a drag in the end because Joe Zawinul wanted to go in another direction. The band was seeking success and fame and they basically changed their music to go a commercial way into a black funk thing”. He also felt aggrieved financially, commenting “I was an equal partner and basically, I didn’t get anything. We had a corporation together that was completely ignored. If you have a company and three people own it, and then two people say ‘Okay, we don’t want to work like this anymore. It’s just two of us now’, normally, they break down the stock and pay off the third person”.
In 1981, Vitouš performed at the Woodstock Jazz Festival held in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Creative Music Studio, and in 1984 he collaborated with Stanley Clarke. In 1988, Vitouš moved back to Europe to concentrate on composing but nonetheless continued to perform in festivals.
In 2001, Vitouš reunited with Chick Corea and Roy Haynes, with whom he had recorded Corea’s album Now He Sings, Now He Sobs in 1969, for a concert in a series entitled “Rendezvous in New York” in celebration of Corea’s 60th birthday. The album of the same name came out in 2003 and earned Corea a Grammy Award for Best Improvised Jazz Solo for the composition “Matrix”.
He has also worked with Larry Coryell, Jan Garbarek, Freddie Hubbard, Michel Petrucciani, Terje Rypdal, and Wayne Shorter. (wikipedia)
An immense talent in terms of jazz-rock tinged bass in the late 60s and early 70s, this Czech-born musician quickly became something of a prodigy, recording with Chick Corea and Roy Haynes in the later 60s.
This debut album, released in 1970 and produced by Herbie Mann, features a host of jazz stars including John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson and Jack DeJohnette. If you take a look around, at the time, this group was pretty sharp for a fusion outfit. When you consider too that the young Vitouš is leading such a glittering array of talent, it is to Vitouš’ immense credit that he managed to pull off this album at all. Don’t forget too that he penned five of the six tracks. He was really sticking his neck out.
This album was recorded around the same time as Miles Davis’ iconic LP, Bitches Brew (which would prove to be so influential to many other fusion players) so you can’t even point the finger at that release in terms of style cues or copycat templates. Such was Vitouš’ acceptance into the jazz world after this LP that he was invited to become part of the legendary fusion band, Weather Report.
The mastering is pretty exciting on this LP. Vitous’ bass playing is both distinct, rhythmic and full of impact which oozes detail and energy while the almost angelic tenor sax from Joe Henderson seems to hover in the sky like an ominous UFO. I was impressed too with the improv technique of John McLaughlin, who darts into the gaps like a shoal of fish occupying every available sea space.
Fans of more contemporary jazz releases will be very familiar with Vitouš as a recording artist for ECM. If you are, then this album will be an eye-opening glimpse into the man’s glittering past. A superb album. (by Paul Rigby)
With John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, and Jack DeJohnette, this group rivaled the best fusion bands of the day. It must have been an intimidating challenge for a young Czech bassist to lead such a group on his debut album as a frontman, especially since he composed five of the six tracks. Recorded in late 1969, roughly the same time as the historic Bitches Brew, and the year before Vitous began a stint with the innovative Weather Report, this was trend-setting fusion. It’s produced by Herbie Mann, for whom Vitous played on such albums as Memphis Underground and Stone Flute. (by Mark Allan)
Jack DeJohnette (drums)
Joe Henderson (saxophone)
Herbie Hancock (piano)
John McLaughlin (guitar)
Miroslav Vitous (bass)
Joe Chambers (drums on 06.)
Alternate front + backcover:
01.Freedom Jazz Dance 10.54
02. Mountain In The Clouds 1.52
03. When Face Gets Pale 6.51
04. Infinite Search 6.46
05. I Will Tell Him On You 11.00
06. Epilogue 6.59
Music composed by
except 01., composed by Eddie Haris