THE FULL TITLE:
The Liberty of Jazz
Nick Brignola, Bob Brookmeyer, John Bunch, Bill Crow, Art Farmer, Walter Perkins, Zoot Sims, Phil Woods
and Louis Armstrong (on bonus track)
play Soviet jazz compositions
over Radio Liberty
THE FULL TRACK LIST:
1. You May Believe – Or Not (Arkady Ostrovsky, arrangement idea – Gennady Golstein) 4.56
2. Madrigal #1 (Gennady Golstein) 6.07
3. Madrigal New York (Gennady Golstein) 5.45
4. You Will Say No (Andrei Eshpai, arrangement idea – Gennady Golstein) (in the phonogram the song is erroneously attributed to Konstantin Nosov) alternative take 3.16 (previously unreleased)
5. You May Believe – Or Not (Arkady Ostrovsky, arrangement idea – Gennady Golstein), take 1 5.13 (previously unreleased)
6. You May Believe – Or Not (Arkady Ostrovsky, arrangement idea – Gennady Golstein), take 2 0.27 (previously unreleased)
7. Madrigal New York (Gennady Golstein), take 1 5.53 (previously unreleased)
8. Madrigal New York (Gennady Golstein), take 2 5.46 (previously unreleased)
9. You Will Say No (Andrei Eshpai, arrangement idea – Gennady Golstein) 3.02
Arranged by Al Cohn
10. Louis Armstrong. Trumpet solo over the Five minutes song (A.Lepin – V.Lifshitz, sung by Liudmila Gurchenko, orchestra conducted by Eddie Rosner, from the Carnival Night movie soundtrack) 3.49 (previously unreleased)
THE FULL STORY BEHIND THESE RECORDINGS
The Liberty of Jazz – Jazz at Liberty
In December 1964, after the brief period of liberalism following the Party Congress of 1961, the Krushchev regime [in the Soviet Union] cracked down on the playing of jazz, attacking it as “decadent”, as it had been called in Stalin’s time. It was an ideal opportunity for the Radio [Liberty] to fill the vacuum with a series of Russian programs on jazz. (...)
Members of the Benny Goodman group had recently [in 1962] returned from a tour of the USSR with some original Soviet jazz compositions they had smuggled out. Joseph Valerio, a Radio Liberty producer in my New York division, had contacts in the jazz world and arranged for some of the Goodman group and other well-known performers to record the forbidden music from Russia in our studios, taking strict precautions to protect the identity of the Soviet composers. The noted jazz expert George T.Simon reported the unique “jam session” and the program series that evolved, which was inaugurated on June 30 :
Radio listeners who tune in Radio Liberty will hear the modern swinging sounds of eight American jazz musicians on a new show called THIS IS JAZZ. But they won’t be playing the usual American fare. Instead they’ll blow four jazz pieces composed by Russians which they recorded exclusively for Soviet consumption.
The octet is headed by Bill Crow, bass, and alto saxophonist Phil Woods, members of the Benny Goodman band that toured the Soviet Union last year. Playing with them are two other Goodman alumni, tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims and pianist John Bunch, plus trumpeter Art Farmer (using mostly the fluegelhorn) trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, baritone saxophonist Nick Brignola and drummer Walter Perkins.
The songs were sent in rough form to Crow and Woods who assigned them to Al Cohn, a top jazz arranger, to score for the octet. The tunes have modern jazz flavor, and the performances by these outstanding musicians compare favorably with the best jazz being recorded today.
The entire project is a labor of love. The musicians aren’t being paid, and their union has sanctioned this unusual move in the name of “international jazz coexistence”. [New York Herald Tribune, June 16, 1963]
A recording of that historic jazz session was specially reproduced in a limited edition. Entitled “Jazz at Liberty”, the liner cover carries a photograph of the Radio’s transmitter site in Spain, along with Simon’s review, and pictures of the famous jazz performers. It can now be revealed that one (in reality, two – ed.) of the four songs written was by Gennadi Golstein, a well-known composer and saxophonist. We chose it for the theme of “Eto Dzhaz” (This Is Jazz), a weekly half-hour program that included the best of modern American jazz and interviews with top performers.
* * *
Before the Radio Liberty transmitters in Spain began operating in the early 1960s, the relative weakness of our signal and the strength of the Soviet jammers had inhibited the use of music on the air (...) One memorial exception in the 1950s was the appearance in our New York studio of Louis Armstrong, who announced in his gravel voice – in carefully rehearsed Russian – that he was speaking over Radio Liberty. Then he put his trumpet to his lips and played a popular Soviet tune called “Five Minutes” from a film hit, “Carnival Night”.
From Gene Sosin. Sparks of Liberty.
(The Pennsylvania State University, 1999)