MOSCOW — The hottest book in Moscow these days is neither the work of a distinguished dissident nor an expose of the Stalin years, nor even the memoirs of Mikhail S. Gorbachev. It is a book entitled "Soviet Jazz."
It is a measure of Soviet leader Gorbachev's policy of glasnost, or openness, that the book could be printed and distributed. Not long ago, jazz was officially perceived in this country as an immoral capitalist import, even though jazz has a long and reputable history here.
A review of the book in the English-language edition of the weekly Moscow News, published Friday, describes "Soviet Jazz" as a "fascinating read." According to reviewer Andrei Vasilyev, 40,000 copies were printed and "bought up instantly."
1929 Jazz Band
Experts on the subject say jazz began to take hold in the Soviet Union in 1929, when a popular actor and entertainer named Leonid O. Utesof organized a band. It quickly attracted a following, although the Communist authorities dismissed the music as brazen, shameless and corrupt--pretty much the way middle-class Americans of the time first received it.