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POLONSKIY, Artur Moiseevich

Dzhaz-Band: Foks-trot [Jazz Band: Fox Trot].

Moscow: Izdaniye Avtora [published by the author], 1926 Stock Code: 130876
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First and only edition, print run of just 1,000 copies. Arthur Polonskiy (1899-1989), who studied at the Kiev Conservatory under the famed Ukrainian pianist, Grigoriy Beklemischev (1881-1935), himself a student of Busoni, was one of the first Soviet composers who attempted to work in the jazz genre. After demobilisation from the Red Army in 1922 he worked as an accompanist in cinemas in and around Kiev, before moving to Moscow in 1925. Polonskiy would have been there in time for the first performances of Shokoladnye Rebiata, Chocolate Kiddies, the African-American revue "that brought jazz to Europe and Russia" which ran from 16 March to 5 May 1926 at the State Circus Buildings in Moscow before transferring to Leningrad (Bjorn Englund, "Chocolate Kiddies", in Storyville 62, Dec.-Jan. 1975, p.44). He published his first experiments in jazz around this time while he was still finding scraps of work in cinemas and restaurants, self-publication was common practice for composers in Russia in the 20s. As Russia moved into the 30s and foreign influences were viewed with increasing suspicion, Polonskiy toed the line producing more patriotic material such as 1937's "We are the most free country" with lyrics by the popular novelist Andrey Irkutov.

Inkstamp verso of the Association of Moscow Authors, an organisation which was highly influential in the popularisation of jazz in the Soviet Union. Capitalising on the impression made by the band assembled by Sam Wooding for the Chocolate Kiddies revue - "a formidable ensemble" (p.56) - "The AMA Jazz Band (Amadhaz) was the brainchild of the Association of Moscow authors, a privately organised music publishing house. The idea was simple. The Association hoped to cash in on the jazz market and need a band to push its hits An eight-piece outfit, the band reigned supreme at the Hermitage Gardens in Moscow and, later, at the Casino Restaurant. The Soviet Union finally had acquired an authentic commercial jazz group dedicated to serving a market of dancers, drinkers, and listeners " (Starr, Red and Hot: The Fate of Jazz in the Soviet Union, 1917-1991, p. 56, pp.65-6). Led by the charismatic, and seemingly untouchable, pianist Alexander "Bob" Tsfasman, the organisation negotiated the potentially complications of Soviet cultural life; "Let the government introduce prison sentences for violators of labour discipline, as it did in January 1931, or threaten anyone absent from work for even a day with dismissal, as it did in December 1932. These jazzmen stood above it all, wild and free, as long as they survived. Tsfasman did more than survive " (pp.139-40).

Highly evocative piece from the earliest days of jazz in Russia.

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Folio (312 x 233 mm). Sheet music bifolium with striking colour printed cover, illustration by Yevgeny Holstein/Evgeny Golstein, 2 pages of notation, last page blank.


Overall a little rubbed, soiled and lightly browned, but remains very good.


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