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Meanings of Jazz in State Socialism

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Edited By Gertrud Pickhan and Rüdiger Ritter

During the Cold War, jazz became a cultural weapon that was employed by both sides to advance their interests. This volume explores the history and roles of jazz in Poland, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Soviet Union, and the Baltic States by means of several case studies. The American administration attempted to destabilize the political systems of the Eastern Bloc countries, while the powers responsible for culture in the Eastern Bloc countries tried to curtail the US propaganda campaign. This resulted in distinct jazz traditions and jazz scenes, each governed by a distinct behavioural codex, as well as official responses in each of the Eastern Bloc countries.
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Swing Club and the Meaning of Jazz in Estonia in the late 1940s

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Abstract This contribution focuses on jazz in Estonia in the late 1940s, a period when the genre was struggling to survive under the double pressure of Sovietization and late-Stalinism. Employing a microhistorical approach and drawing on articles first published in the almanac of the Estonian jazz group Swing Club, the study asks how the cultural agents, that is the jazz musicians themselves, acted and discussed jazz at this difficult moment in history and what the cultural and musical meanings of their music were in Estonia in the late 1940s.

This study on Estonian jazz history is an attempt to discuss the state of jazz in the country in the late 1940s. Under the double pressure of Sovietization and late-Stalinism this was a time when Estonian jazz had to fight for its very survival. Based on articles first published in the almanac of the Estonian jazz group Swing Club (also known as SC) and employing a microhistorical approach, this chapter asks how the cultural agents, that is the jazz musicians themselves, acted and discussed jazz at this difficult moment in history and what the cultural and musical meanings of their music were in Estonia in the late 1940s.

These humorous verses appeared on the opening page of the Swing Club Almanac which draws together writings on jazz in Estonia in the period 1947 to 1950, a time when political tolerance towards jazz was particularly low. As a result of the late-Stalinist3 ideological purges intended to...

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