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Jazz from Socialist Realism to Postmodernism


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 from Socialist Realism to Postmodernism conference proceedings is the latest of a series of publications which focus on jazz research in the former socialist countries. After the previous insights into the worlds of Polish and German jazz, this volume brings more thorough studies of jazz development in the former Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. The individual contributions also compare the state of jazz in particular European countries during the second half of the 20th century. The authors point out the different conditions for the development of jazz in Italy, France, Scandinavia, and Central Europe (particularly in Hungary and Poland) as well as in Macedonia. Within the cultural politics of socialist countries, an overall shift from socialist realism to 1960s modernist aesthetics and to postmodernism in the 1970s and 1980s can be seen along with a gradual overturning of many misconceptions and attitudes. Although the ideological pressures on jazz artists loosened, censorship and intolerance refocussed on rock music, and thus on the area of jazz-rock and fusion genres within jazz. In music culture, as a result of the new Gorbachev philosophy, many Western elements were tolerated, but socialist leaders still held to the idea of “building socialist culture”, and neither censorship nor ideological doctrines ceased with the emergence of postmodernism. Most objections to jazz-rock, fusion and rock genres were directed towards the fact that, compared to classical music, they lacked artistic values and, hence, represented only a cheap form of Western entertainment. Not all jazzmen were able to embrace...

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