Swinging With Uncle Joe

Russell Davies presents a four-part history of jazz under Communism.


01Two Revolutions1998082919980904

In 1917, a coup d'etat in St Petersburg marked the end of tsarist rule in Russia. In the same year, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band made the first jazz record, in New York. The fates of jazz and Communism were to be obliquely linked for the next seventy years or more.

02Jazz Militant1998090519980911

After the collapse of the Hitler-Stalin pact, jazz in the Soviet Union became not only acceptable but patriotic. But with the onset of the Cold War, it once again became anathema, as it did in the newly annexed countries of Eastern Europe

03Musical Co-existence1998091219980918

With the Kruschev thaw, jazz musicians in the Eastern Bloc enjoyed limited freedom and American bands toured with the blessing of Communist authorities both in Russia and eastern Europe

04 LASTFinding A Voice1998091919980925

In the 1970s, Russian jazz found its own unique and brilliant voice.

In the USSR, Poland and Czechoslovakia, the music became increasingly associated with dissidence and rebellion.