Writer, jazz expert, diplomat, founder of the Jazz Aesthetics Course at the G. Dima Music Academy in Cluj, Virgil Mihau will give a special lecture on April 27th, at the Music Academy of Cetinje (University of Montenegro) at 1pm, as a part of the Jazz Appreciation Month in Montenegro event.
Traditionally, jazz has been defined as an Afro-American musical synthesis. Accordingly, from the very beginning, it was conditioned by geopolitical elements (i.e., relating to politics, especially international relations, as influenced by geographical factors). In a parallel manner these have been affected and nurtured, shaped and transcended by a more profound relationship: the connection between jazz and the world’s bountiful supply of cultures.
No doubt, in the beginning jazz was an Afro-American import all over the world. And this type of music is by far the United States’ most original and coherent contribution to the enrichment of mankind’s artistic heritage. But neither can an informed observer deny the progressive emancipation of jazz, from the middle of the 20th century onwards, firstly in Europe, soon afterwards in Latin America, and nowadays on all continents. For decades on end, jazz musicians outside the USA had not been able to overcome the complexes engendered by the alleged “genuineness” of canonized American patterns. At present the situation is different. Only by expanding the concept of jazz towards new cultural and aesthetic territories shall we be entitled to consider it not only the music of the 20th century, but also the music of the future.
Nevertheless, this very process of emancipation is a fascinating chapter in itself.
Virgil Mihaiu’s lecture will concentrate upon a couple of significant cases in point: the “jazz contamination” phenomenon, in various European countries; the “love/hate” correlation between jazz and the political power in the Soviet Union, the “socialist camp” countries, as well as in other totalitarian regimes (Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal); big bands as expression of national identity in most Soviet Republics, from Stalin’s times to the post-independence period (the Baltic countries, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bessarabia, Ukraine, Belorussia, Central Asia); the initial power play between the English language monopoly in jazz vs. its expression in native tongues, followed by the subsequent acceptance of new idioms, as well as styles, from all over the world (the rising of Brazil’s bossa nova, of Cuban & other Latin-American rhythms, the appearance and development of distinctive European national jazz-expressions, etc., which finally led to the glocalisation phenomenon ‒ a term concocted by British scholar Stuart Nicholson); the incongruence between big and valuable, or between rich and talented in matters of arts (Lithuania, Estonia & Latvia boast more valid jazz accomplishments than huge countries like China or Ukraine…); the way in which geopolitical changes affect the jazz scene (Norway’s impressive jazz development, after the discovery of petrol reserves); temperamental and psychological features of the ”regional or national character” expressed through jazz (amazing achievements by artists like Jan Johansson/Sweden, Krzysztof Komeda/Poland, Richard Oschanitzky/Romania, Vagif Mustafa-Zade/Azerbaijan, Ganelin-Chekasin-Tarasov/Russia-Lithuania, Anatol Stefanet/Republic of Moldova). Certainly, the multitude of such possible themes cannot be tackled exhaustively in a single session, but they may offer stimulating material for further critical appreciation of today’s art of jazz.
Virgil Mihaiu will also express his opinion about the appearance of Montenegro on nowadays geopolitical map of jazz. He would like to incite an exchange of ideas with the participants to his lecture, starting from the prospects of this music in Montenegro.