FWD: FWD: Swing that Music - Communist style

fajardos at ix.netcom.com fajardos at ix.netcom.com
Mon Dec 17 22:20:23 MST 2001

             [dixielandjazz] Swing that Music - Communist style
             Mon, 17 Dec 2001 13:09:40 -0500
             Stephen Barbone <barbonestreet at earthlink.net>
             Barbone Street Jazz Band
             Listar <dixielandjazz at listserv.islandnet.com>

List mates

There is an interesting bit in "Jazz" (The companion book to the Ken
Burns Series about the Stalinist take on Jazz. See page 216 if you have

Seems that Russia was OK with Jazz until Stalin took power. And as we
know, Bechet and others had toured that country after the revolution,
but before Stalin

The "official" position change was detailed in a 1928 article in Pravda,
by novelist Maxim Gorky as follows: (For those who don't have the book)

"There are rumblings, wails and howls like the snarling of a metal pig,
the shriek of a donkey, or the amorous croaking of a monstrous frog.
This insulting chaos of insanity pulses to a throbbing rhythm. Listening
for a few minutes to these wails, one involuntarily imagines an
orchestra of sexually driven madmen conducted by a man-stallion
brandishing a huge genital member. The monstrous bass belches out
English words; a wild horn wails piercingly, calling to mind the cries
of a raving camel; a drum pounds monotonously; a nasty little pipe tears
at one's ears; a saxophone emits its quacking nasal sounds. Fleshy hips
sway, and thousands of heavy feet tread and shuffle. The music of the
degenerate ends finally with a deafening thud, as though a case of
pottery had been flung down to earth from the skies."

Hey, that sounds like our band, especially that bit about the conductor.
(I wish)  Think I'll put it in the promo literature. ;-))  I'm certain
if the younger generations saw that review about OKOM today, we would
all be sold out in giant stadium venues throughout the world.

Of course that all changed once again as far as Stalin, and the fellow
travelers in the USA were concerned in the 1930s. All of a sudden the
communists saw jazz as a  worthy folk music that "has its roots in the
oppressive measures of the southern plantation owners against the negro
masses." from an article in the Daily Worker

Then, of course "Strange Fruit, a poem by a US Communist Party member,
was set to music. And Billie Holiday, who was  prior to her singing it
just another band singer, became a world famous singing star in her own

Steve (love that history) Barbone
Barbone Street Jazz Band - Philadelphia area USA

PS. Or was a prescient Gorky just describing British Trad?   8>)   VBG

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