Born in Prague, Miroslav Vitous began the violin at age six and started playing piano at age ten and bass at 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.
His album Infinite Search was recorded with John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, and Joe Henderson. He has also worked with Chick Corea, Larry Coryell, Jan Garbarek, Freddie Hubbard, Michel Petrucciani, Terje Rypdal, Wayne Shorter, and Joe Zawinul
In 1970 he was a founding member of the group Weather Report. In 1973 he was replaced by Alphonso Johnson. He stated, “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. “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”.
Vitous with Roy Haynes Quintet 1981
In 1981 he performed at the Woodstock Jazz Festival held in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Creative Music Studio. 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 Corea and Haynes (as the Now He Sings, Now He Sobs trio) 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”.