Big brass orchestras and funk: listen to 1 hour of Soviet-era jazz

Big brass orchestras and funk: listen to 1 hour of Soviet-era jazz
Image: The Variety Orchestra of Armenia

17 December 2020

The London-based independent NTS radio has released a one-hour compilation of Soviet-era jazz.

Most of the selection dates from the 1970s, with highlights that include Czech jazz-rock/fusion band Čaroděj, Latvian trumpet player and composer Gunārs Rozenbergs, and the jazz band of the Omsk-born conductor and self-taught saxophonist Oleg Kutsenko. State orchestras, which flourished under Soviet rule, are also represented by the Variety Orchestra of Armenia.

Curated by DJ and music researcher Chahoud Ernesto, the selection is a follow-up to a popular first compilation released earlier in October.

“The Soviet jazz scene was not disconnected from what was happening outside of the Iron Curtain,” Chahoud told The Calvert Journal. “Take, for example, Benny Goodman’s tour of the Soviet Union in 1962 and Duke Ellington’s in 1971 — they were impressed by Soviet musicians. The Eastern Bloc had great music schools and the material means to produce and record,” the DJ added.

Born in Lebanon, Chahoud says he discovered the Soviet jazz scene during lockdown.

Listen to the compilation here. For more Soviet-era music, dig through NTS’s archive here.

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