TheSourcesof theSovietJazz

As in many European countries, the early Twenties in Soviet Russia saw the quick raise of the first jazz collectives. Valentin Yakovlevich Parnach, who got fascinated with jazz while being in Paris and organized the first such band in Russia after his return home, is by right considered to be the pioneer in this field. On October 1, 1922, the first jazz concert in the Soviet country took place, provoking an active responce in progressive art circles [1, p. 10]. That day was the true birthday of Soviet jazz. Notable is the soon followed Parnach's jazz joining the Meyerhold's Revolution theatre crew, as the close connection between jazz and theatrical art later expanded by L. Utyosov saw its beginning as early as in 1923. Soon after the Parnach collective's debut the "PEKSA" group, consisting of conservatory students, and the Leningrad band of Eduard Korzhenevsky turned to develop the new musical trend.

The words of Genrich Terpilovsky, one of the Soviet jazz pioneers, who characterized "PEKSA" "being not jazz, but a daring innovatory experiment on the way to jazz" [1, p. 14] could be applied to the whole early period of jazz in Russia. The first tour visit of an American Negro jazz band to the Soviet Union took place in the beginning of 1926. That was the Frank Witers' collective featuring Sydney Bichet, the first-rate American jazz star. Sam Wooding's "Chocolate Lads" band came soon after, being highly appreciated by academically educated music specialists, and surprisingly leaving indifferent most of the "jazz-like" musicians of the time.

1927, when Alexander Tsfasman's "AMA - jazz" in Moscow and Leopold Teplitsky's "First concert jazz band" in Leningrad appeared, was a real turning point in the development of jazz in Russia. One should note that Leningrad became a true cradle of Soviet professional jazz music. That was the place where Boris Krupyshev's bands later performed, and the "Leningrad jazz capella" led by Gennady Landsberg and Krupyshev came to being in 1929. The latter collective, a resident band of the Leningrad radio in the thirties, was the first one to start creating Soviet jazz repertoire.

In conclusion we'll mention the extremely little number of true jazz records made at that time, that could be simply counted on fingers. But the "jazz - like" collectives, such as L'vov-Vel'yaminov's orchestra, that in essence was a brass-band, or that of Sigismund Kort, proclaimed themselves jazz without any ceremonies and placed this word on the record labels. There was plenty of such products, which, however, do not determine the true look of the 1920s Soviet jazz, as those few discs recorded by the orchestras of Tsfasman, Landsberg and Utyosov do.

Literary sources.

1. Batashov A.N. Soviet jazz. A Historical Outline. - Moscow, "Muzyka", 1972.


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