Mavericks From the Other Side of the Curtain: A Soviet Jazz Mix

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa revisits the forgotten yet rich rich musical exchange between East and West during the Cold War.
By    May 18, 2021

Photo via Zois Berlin/Patrick Johnson

The only place on the world wide web that you’ll find personalized playlists introducing you to the forgotten history of Soviet jazz. Please support Passion of the Weiss by subscribing to our Patreon.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa wants to remind you that the Iron Curtain couldn’t stop the music.

Sometimes we are surprised by the enormous consequences that the ideological and geopolitical barriers of the past have left us. Throughout the Cold War, the world was bitterly divided into West, that we felt as “our thing”, and East, “the other”, and during these years artistic, musical and cinematographic exchanges between these factions were severely limited, depriving millions of an invaluable cultural arsenal for decades.

However, now that we live an uncertain, confusing 2021, in which we live consumed by the exploitation and accumulation of the Capitalist machine that has already compromised the future of the planet through the catastrophe of climate change, and at the same time immersed in a global health crisis that is undoubtedly also a by-product of Capitalist societies’ insatiable depredation, we cannot help but look back with a certain nostalgia to a past that offered us an alternative. Young people of this generation re-read Marx looking for answers, and thanks to the Internet revolution, we can see images, sounds and testimonies of those years in “the other half” of the world.

But there was a rich musical exchange between East and West, even in the midst of this conflict. There were always those passionate adventurers who traded records and tapes at both ends of the iron curtain; brave renegades who risked their freedom and even their lives in the sacred task of sharing the best music of the different genres and movements of the era. Without these true heroes, styles like Latvian bebop, Armenian swing, Azeri fusion and Estonian funk just couldn’t have made it all the way to our ears.

This mix, an introduction of the different forms of jazz that developed during the Soviet era, is a tribute to those mavericks.

01. Vram Grigoryan & Combo of Radio & TV of Armenia feat. Marina Grigoryan – Maqur Yerkinq Qaz Yerevan
02. Melik Mavaisakalyan & Radio & TV Symphony Orchestra of Armenia – Lerneri Par
03. Konstantin Orbelyan – Dilijan
04. Lithuanian SSR Conservatory Big Band & Tatevik Hovhannisyan – Concerto for Voice and Big Band
05. Levon Malikhasyan – F Blues
06. Elvina Makaryan, Melik Mavaisakalyan & Radio & TV Variety Orchestra of Armenia – Veradardz
07. Georgiy Garanyan – Caravan
08. Artashes Kartalyan – Toccata
09. David Goloshchekin & Leningrad Jazz Ensemble – Prijatnym zvukom
10. Tonu Naisoo Trio – Echo of Recollections
11. Vyacheslav Ganelin Trio – Ex Libris
12. Vackhtang Kakhidze Quartet – Composition
13. Vagif Mustafazadeh & Mugham – Recollections of Tbilisi
14. Kurt Yarnberg Quintet – Serenity
15. Rafik Babayev Quartet – Song of the Inhabitants of the Mountains
16. Vyacheslav Zakharov Quintet – Oleo
17. Anatoly Kroll Quintet – Composition in three parts
18. Tallinn Jazz Quartet & Lembit Saarsaly – Malish
19. Armenian Quartet “Zvedzichka” – Khorodov
20. Zvezdochka Quartet – Khorovod
21. Dzhazovoe Trio & Rajmondsa Raubishko – Piramida Hefrena
22. Tiit Paulus – Topi
23. Kvartal – Zamerzla
24. Gunesh – Kechpelek

We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!