Jimmy Young (1929)
Aleksandr Tsfasman Orchestra. Music: A. Varlamov
Description: The first great Soviet jazzman, Tsfasman gained great fame as head of the first Moscow jazz band, AMA-Jazz, from 1926-1930. From 1927, he regularly appeared on Soviet radio. To the infinite frustration of the proletarian movement, who might have preferred factory whistle choruses, his music was recorded, transmitted through the ether, and he himself performed in clubs, restaurants, theaters, and even Moscow’s great Dynamo sports stadium.
Congo (Blues) (1932)
Leonid Utesov. Arrangement: N. Ignatiev
Description: Born Lazar Weisbein in the city of Odessa, Utesov was the most famous performer in the Soviet Union, as a singer and later movie star. His favorite repertoire was the jazz and criminal romances of his native Odessa. After hearing the Ted Lewis Jazz Band during a trip to Paris in 1928, he returned to Russia determined to make a Russian brand of jazz, which he did with re-orchestrations of Yiddish, Russian and Ukrainian songs. His star role in the film ‘Merry Fellows’ (1934), as a shepherd turned jazz singer, cemented his fame as a film star and jazz musician.
Dark Eyes (1930)
Petr Leshchenko. Music: Oskar Strok
Description: Popular composer Strok took this classic Russian folk song and re-orchestrated the melody with the jazz influence sweeping in from the West in the late 1920s. Petr Leshchenko, the romantic lead singer of the era, performs the lyrics here.
Blues (Moiatana) (1932)
Iakov Skomorovskii. Music: Al. Skomorovskii; Arrangement: N. Ignatiev
Description: Nothing was more antithetical to the spirit of proletarian culture than the blues, which enjoyed immense popularity during the reign of RAPP. Odessa-born jazzman Skomorovskii, who formed the first Leningrad jazz band in the late 1920s, here plays one of his greatest hits.
That’s Good (1932)
Aleksandr Tsfasman Jazz Orchestra.