Miroslav Vitous played music with his brother Alan and Jan Hammer while attending the Prague Conservatory,
and played in a Dixieland band with trumpeter/singer Jírí Jerinek. Winning first prize in an international music
competition in Vienna gave Miroslav the opportunity to study in the U.S., at Berklee College of Music. It was during this
time that he was asked to play in Cannonball Adderley's group, but turned it down in order to complete his studies at Berklee.
In the summer of 1967, Miroslav moved to New York to get involved in the vibrant music scene of the mid-sixties.
What many people may not know is that Miroslav was ranked as a top Olympic contender in free style swimming.
He was on the international team going into the Olympic team from Munich. The discipline and strength required to
excel in athletics transferred into his determination in music. He has admitted to the similarities of athletics to
music, for example, when you hit a wall, and have to have the internal drive to keep going despite difficulties or setbacks.
We can all imagine how difficult Miroslav must have had it - coming to the New York from a Communist country, by himself. His
having made an impressive career both in his solo work as well as numerous collaborations, will perhaps be inspirational to other
aspiring young musicians in Czechoslovakia, and elsewhere.
When Miroslav came to New York in 1967 he had the opportunity to play with a host of great musicians such as
Art Farmer, Freddie Hubbard, Bob Brookmeyer, Stan Getz, Herbie Mann, Miles Davis and Chick Corea, to name a few. 1967 was
also the year when America lost one of its jazz legends: John Coltrane. Coltrane had been a significant force
in moving jazz to its free form, away from the hard bop, modal method of the fifties. Many performers during this time
started integrating rock and free-form improvisations into their music. There were some rock influences, as well as
experimentations with electronic instruments which were evident in many albums during this period. This is how
fusion had its start, which may be broadly defined as the juxtaposition of numerous genres such as rock, funk, electronics and
Miles Davis is considered to a very influential catalyst to the fusion style. From many of Miles'
collaborators came the first wave of fusion musicians, such as Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea and Stanley Clark.
One of the most celebrated fusion bands formed in 1971, was Weather Report. The musicians included
saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Joe Zawinul and Miroslav on bass. Other members included Airto Moirera and
Alphonse Mouzon, who contributed to their first two albums, 'Weather Report' and 'I Sing the Body Electric'. Within
these albums are evidence of experimentations with electronic effects on the bass as well as electric piano and organ.
Miroslav played his bass upright, which he does to this day. The sounds eminating from the bass produced a
horn-like vocal quality. These albums were characterized by very fluid arrangements and a highly improvised style.
Prior to the release of Miroslav's most recent album called 'Universal Syncopations', he took a seven year
break from performing to concentrate his efforts at making orchestral sample libraries.
He was in search of electronic sounds to assist him in composing, but discovered what was available in the marketplace to
be lacking in quality. As a result, Miroslav became consumed in producing the symphonic samples that he had been searching
for, by sampling each solo player amongst an orchestra. "Sampling is an extremely expensive process, but allows me to compose
more easily when ideas are fresh in my mind."
The result of being able to compose with the electronic samples, brought about the release of the album
'Universal Syncopations'. Miroslov knew beyond a doubt that Jack DeJohnette would be his drummer, since Jack was his
favorite drummer for several decades and had participate in many collaborations. John McLaughlin was chosen for the work that
he had done with Miles Davis in the seventies, and Miroslav wanted to tap into that evolutionary style and to take it up a notch.
Chick Corea has asked for Miroslav's help on many of his previous albums, so this time it was Corea who was asked to collaborate.
Jan Garbarek is Miroslav's favorite sax player, and they have an intuitive musical connection. This particular work captures the
creative force in the sounds and motifs, and justaposes jazz and classical styles in a very open and free way.