Dieselpunks

Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

American swing records made in the Soviet Union

In the 1980s, I bought several records with American swing music of the 1930s/1940s in Moscow. At the time, it was almost impossible to buy Western rock music in the Soviet Union. However, American big band jazz from the 1930s/1940s was not only tolerated by the government but actively promoted. This might be because that this music comes from the era before the Cold War, when the USA and the USSR still were comrades in arms in WWII. The Soviet label Melodia (Мелодия) produced a number of records with swing musiс. For this, Melodia experts restored recordings available in the USSR. They also made their own compilations. Thus, the records are no copies of US labels but very unique products. The cover design is also from Soviet artists. Here are the covers of the records I own:

 

  • Glenn Miller: In The Mood (В настроении)
  • Count Basie: When the Sun goes down (Когда садится солнце) 
  • Benny Goodman: How deep is the Ocean (Как глубок океан)
  • Benny Goodman: What Moonlight can do (Что может сделать лунный свет)
On the covers, the music titles were not transcribed but translated into Russian language. The manufacturing quality of the records is very good. Although I played them quite often, the sound is still excellent after more than 30 years.
 
On the covers, the music titles were not transcribed but translated into Russian language. The manufacturing quality of the records is very good. Although I played them quite often, the sound is still excellent after more than 30 years.

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Comment by Joern Pachl on August 18, 2013 at 4:06pm

In the early 1980s, East German label Amiga published a series of five records called "Jazz auf Amiga 1-5" with jazz recordings from 1947 to 1962, many of them by East German musicians. It's a very nice documentation of the East German jazz scene in the years after the war.

Comment by gordon eight on August 18, 2013 at 1:54pm

in a similar vein: FORMATION 60 - a collection of 10 of the finest tunes recorded by East German jazz musicians in the 1950s and '60s on Jazzanova Compost Records (JCR).

Comment by Cap'n Tony on August 12, 2013 at 10:33am

The cover art is fantastic.  Thanks for sharing!

Comment by Deven Science on August 11, 2013 at 2:09pm

Interesting!

Comment by Pilsner Panther on August 4, 2013 at 12:03am

Almost from the beginning (when early jazz pioneers like Sidney Bechet and Coleman Hawkins toured Europe in the 1920's and 30's), other countries and other cultures have tended to appreciate our greatest musical export more than we do.

I'm not sure why this is, but I once had a conversation about it with an American college professor who'd taught for many years in Japan. I said, "I notice that when I listen to a live recording of any American jazz musician playing in Japan, be it Miles Davis or Thelonious Monk or Cecil Taylor or whomever, the audiences sound much larger than what they'd have here, and the applause is a lot more enthusiastic. Why is that?"

His reply was a really interesting one: "These people live in a very regimented society, and to them, this music represents freedom. To the Japanese, even the idea of musicians getting up on stage and playing whatever they want to is kind of amazing."

So, I suppose that the same thing was true "back in the U.S.S.R." That is, a little whiff of freedom, wafting out of your speakers, was better than none at all.



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