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Communist Swing Music
Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 12:21 am
So, I heard a teaser for an NPR story (at least I think it was an NPR story) the other day about swing music under Communist Russia and that there was apparently one great artist that was supposed to be the USSR's answer to Basie and Ellington and they played an exceprt that was just absolutely swingin'. Do any of you have any idea who this artist would be? And, as another question, do any of you have any Communist era swing music from behind the Iron Curtain and what do you think about it?
Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 3:31 pm
Don't forget that many of the US black artists of the late 30's were in the Communist Party in New York.
Eddie Brunner may not have been in Russia, but he was from Switzerland and played at the opening of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
I’m sure Russia had plenty of Swing Bands. Europe has had many fantastic bands that most people know very little about.
Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 4:35 pm
Bob the Builder wrote:Don't forget that many of the US black artists of the late 30's were in the Communist Party in New York.
I think (hope) he's asking a question about recent availability/access, not the political affiliation of the musicians: namely, whether we have heard any recordings that were made in the USSR behind the iron curtain, not whether there are any swing songs about communism or by communists. Sort of the Russian side of the movie "Swing Kids," not a Swing side of the movie "Reds."
Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 9:06 pm
Thanks Lawrence ... that's exactly what I'm looking for.
Posted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 2:36 am
I met a few russians at the Herrang Dance Camp this year, and one of them (don't remember her name) showed a russian video at one of the evening meetings. When she introduced this and talked there it gave me the impression that there was no "swing jazz" in Russia at the time. There was big bands but they didn't play anything like the american bands. But this was said regarding to the 20s and 30s if I remember correctly.
Posted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 5:09 pm
From what I can remember of the teaser, they mentioned that there was only one artist that really gained prominence because, Stalin liked him, otherwise all of the other bands were not kosher.
Posted: Thu Nov 24, 2005 10:26 pm
The Soviet Union had some excellent swing and dance bands in the 20s, 30s & 40s. They even get a begrudging mention on an Eddie Condon Jazz Concert in 1944. Leonid Utesov and his RSFSR Dance Orchestra played swing and dance in Red Square for VE Day 1945 - Bigger than that crappy, recent McCarthy concert. Perhaps the best ever swing trumpeter in the world, (yep, even better than Louis!) and acknowledged as such by Ellington, Goodman and others, who tried to get him to the US in the late 60s, early 70s was Berlin born Edy Rosner. He left Germany because of the Nazis, became one of the few jazz band leaders in Poland and was made leader of the Byelorussian Soviel socialist Republic dance Orchestra in 1939 when the Russians took the eastern part of Poland. Edy was a celebrated muso, so much so that he thought he could slip back into Poland in 1945 now that his war work for the Workers' Paradise had been done! Big mistake! He was sent to Kolyma, the worst of the prison camps and he survived by organising an inmate's orchestra, which was filmed. You'll probably see it on your NPR doco. Cheers!
Re: Communist Swing Music
Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 11:41 am
LindyChef wrote:So, I heard a teaser for an NPR story (at least I think it was an NPR story) the other day about swing music under Communist Russia and that there was apparently one great artist that was supposed to be the USSR's answer to Basie and Ellington and they played an exceprt that was just absolutely swingin'. Do any of you have any idea who this artist would be?
Check out this LA Times article (need to register to read) -
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld ... full.story
http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/news/obi ... ?gusrc=rss
Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 12:44 pm
Soviet Jazz of 30's and 40's
Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 2:19 pm
There is an excellent resource on Soviet Jazz here -
Soviet Jazz of 30's and 40's
They have detailed pages on these four prominent Jazz musicians, with apparently full-length Real Audio samples -
The page on Eddy Rosner is excellent
and includes a Real Audio sample of a recording of "Saint Louis Blues
(is this the track you heard on the radio LindyChef?)
Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 2:24 pm
A Prague-based company called Musica Bona
has 5 pages of Czech Swing
and/or Jazz CDs from the Communist Era:
http://www.musicabona.com/search/index. ... ng&x=0&y=0
Listen to the samples on this CD as a starter:
Czech Swing Music
All the CDs appear to have audio samples of a few tracks.
Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:08 am
A few Soviet jazz bands are mentioned in the book Stalin at the Movies
, especially Leonid Utyosov who appeared in several Soviet films.
Playing jazz in the Soviet Union during the 30's sounds like it was a tricky business since almost anything you did could get you killed. Stalin seems to have liked the music somewhat (but why did he ban the saxophone?). At times it helped that the Soviet Union wanted to appear to be a cultured, non-racist society and some Communists felt the promotion of jazz fit that goal. But those people would get purged and their replacements would claim jazz music was the cause of the country's problems. Then something else would happen and suddenly jazz would be acceptable again.
Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 1:55 pm
scowl wrote: Stalin seems to have liked the music somewhat (but why did he ban the saxophone?).
Because he foresaw the emergence of Kenny G? [ok, couldn't resist ha ha].