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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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Jazz: Made in Europe

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Abstract: The paper is on transformation and metamorphosis of the “new” (American) music onto the “old” continent (Europe). It deals with the European jazz phenomenon whilst emphasizing national or local specifics (for example music of Miki Škuta). It also gives attention to the European and pan-European aspects of significant jazz musicians’ productions.

European jazz is different, and it should be different! As the British professor Stuart Nicholson (the author of Billie Holiday’s and Ella Fitzgerald’s biographies) remarked in his inspiring and controversial work Is Jazz Dead?: (or Has it Moved to a New Address),1 contemporary European jazz is a driving force of the evolution and progression of jazz music. Nicholson referred to “glocalisation”, the term which denotes the adaptation of local cultural components into global jazz trends. The synthesis of outer (global) influences with domestic elements and the following penetration of local features into global art is characteristic, to varied degrees, for the developmental processes in all art genres.

Wide scope synthesis of national with cosmopolitan, local with global stemmed from jazz evolutionary character. The goal of many Europeans jazz fans and musicians was to abandon their local music traditions for modern (kind of exotic-sounding) jazz and approximate their music to the original American model and standards (as did, for example, the Danish double bass player Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, who completely overcame the “American complex” and, in the mid-1960s, collaborated with such figures as Count Basie, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, Bill Evans, Sonny...

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