Celebrate the birth of Russian jazz, 100 years ago this year
2022 is a landmark year in the evolution of jazz music. The ﬁrst-ever jazz concert in Russia played by Russian musicians took place on October 1, 1922, 100 years ago this year. A unique event in cultural history worthy of further exploration.
Over the course of this year, Moscow embraces its identity as the birthplace of Russian Jazz. The celebrations are nationwide and extensive, including the Moscow Jazz Festival in June, then, with extensive jazz birthday celebrations at the famous Bolshoi Theatre and, ﬁnally, through the ﬁrst-ever Russian Jazz Award Ceremony in November.
In the autumn of 1922, a 100 years ago this year, dancer, poet and musician Valentin Parnakh was in Paris when he ﬁrst heard the music we all love so much. Immediately beguiled, he insisted on bringing jazz to Russia. He dove headﬁrst into his new, adventurous calling, got a loan, bought a set of instruments and records and proceeded to bring them into a country that, while fostering a long and rich musical and cultural tradition historically, had not yet embraced jazz as its own.
On October 1, 1922, Parnakh organized and performed the ﬁrst-ever jazz concert in the entire Soviet Union. Ever since, the genre has ﬂourished, earning its place in the hearts of many inside Russia and out. The result is a unique style, ﬁrmly rooted in the American tradition, complemented and enriched by Russian culture and folklore.
At the helm of its growth are musicians such as saxophonist Igor Butman who incorporated a children’s song from a Soviet cartoon into his repertoire long ago: ‘Golden Sun Ray’, arguably, became one of the ﬁrst Russian jazz standards of its time; many more would follow. The genre and its fan base continues to grow and evolve both in Russia and outside its borders and 2022 would seem a good year to celebrate this.
For further reading on the Russian jazz scene do take a look at jazz.ru a gateway to the Russian jazz scene.