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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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Strategies of Domination or Ways of Differentiation from Rivals in the Jazz Field

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Abstract: In the last few years I have been conducting research into the social milieu of jazz in Poland. Asking the question whether there is something like “Polish jazz” evoked emotional reactions from respondents. Some of them strongly protested against using such an expression, whilst others agreed and confirmed this phraseology.

During its nearly 100-year-long existence in Poland, jazz has undergone various transformations. It has weathered the war and changes in the political and economic systems, and it has developed diverse styles and taken a permanent hold in the cultural landscape. One of the insoluble disputes – both between jazzmen themselves and among critics – is the question of whether “Polish jazz” exists, whose uniqueness consists in inspirations drawn from the national and folk culture, and from the existence of a particular sensitivity and uniquely structured habitus of Polish musicians, which may result in a different manner of doing jazz than the American way.

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