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Jazz from Socialist Realism to Postmodernism

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Edited By Yvetta Kajanová, Gertrud Pickhan and Rüdiger Ritter

In the 20th century, jazz was an important artistic form. Depending on the particular European country, jazz music carried different social, political and aesthetic meanings. It brought challenges in the areas of racial issues, the politics of the Cold War between East and West, and in the exploration of boundaries of artistic freedom. In socialist Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary and Poland, the situation began to change after 1956 and then 1968, when the ideologists shifted from the aesthetics of socialist realism to postmodernism. In Western countries such as France and Italy, jazz transformed from a modern to a postmodern period. This volume deals with the impact of these changes on the career development of jazz musicians – even beyond 1989 – in terms of various phenomena such as emigration, child prodigies, multiculturalism, multi-genre approaches, or female jazz musicians.

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The Jazz Section and its Influence on the Development of Regional Cultures in Czechoslovakia before 1989: the Music Scene in Olomouc

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Abstract: One of the most important cultural institutions in 1970s and 1980s Czechoslovakia, in its era of normalisation – the communist state’s return to totalitarian practices – was the Jazz Section. It resulted in the 1984 official abolishment of the organisation and in the criminalisation of its leading members.

The Jazz Section was established in Prague in 1971 as an affiliate organisation of the Association of Musicians of the Czech Socialist Republic. Its initial goal was to promote jazz; later its musical interest, to a larger extent, focused on the areas of rock and alternative music. In the subsequent years, the Jazz Section’s activities by far exceeded the musical framework and the organisation became a rich source of a broad spectrum of information, as well as art and cultural forms in Czechoslovakia.1 The promotion of independent and unofficial culture gradually led to the politicisation of the Jazz Section’s activities by the Communist regime.

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