Unzipped Souls

A Jazz Journey Through the Soviet Union

William Minor
Book Cover

HC: $45.50
EAN: 978-1-56639-324-9
Publication: Aug 95

256 pages
6 x 9
25 halftones

A "jazz journey" into the former Soviet Union's burgeoning music scene


Across 9,000 kilometers and six republics of the former Soviet Union, William Minor embarked on a "jazz journey" to observe the development of contemporary Russian jazz, as it responded to abundance of cultural changes.

A jazz writer and musician himself, Minor sat in on private performances and went backstage at several major festivals, witnessing first-hand the artistic release and creativity of Russian musicians. Throughout his travels, the author interviewed musicians, critics, and fans, and reproduces in his book an intimate sense of their aspirations, struggles, successes; they tell of shared resources, networks, and inventive forums for playing and exchanging information.

At the same time, this narrative bespeaks the hard realities of life: the difficulty of getting equipment, the scant number of clubs, and the limited information about the music scene in other parts of the world. Minor's impressions and experiences are a valuable behind-the-scenes look the country and the culture just before the collapse of the communist state.


"William Minor, taking the reader on a tour of the Soviet jazz circuit in the twilight of communism, personalizes the phenomenon with accounts he gathered from folks who, in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, both participated in carrying off this cultural coup and continue to perpetuate the jazz idiom ... a timely and truly astonishing tale, and, in the author's lucid prose, a charming one as well."
W. Royal Stokes, editor of Jazz Notes

Table of Contents


Part I: Homework
1. Now's the Time
2. A Man from Mars
3. The Breakthrough
4. Predecessors
5. Homegrown Bureaucracy...And a Citizen of Boston

Part II: Moscow
6. A Critic's Apartment and the Youth Hotel
7. First Concerts, Our Dinner with Irene, and a Man Who Loves the Blues
8. The Belle of Baku and the Bear of Bulgaria
9. Two Bad Boys
10. "Man, He Is the Best!"
11. The Last Supper

Part III: Leningrad and the Republics
12. Peter-the-First Stew
13. The Freedom Monument
14. The Ukraine, in Joy and Sorrow
15. The Healing Waters of Tbilisi
16. Leningrad Shadows and the Long White Night Coda

About the Author(s)

William Minor writes for numerous journals and magazines, including Down Beat, Coda, JazzTimes, and Jazz Forum. He is also a visual artist, professional musician, and Instructor in the Humanities Division at Monterey Peninsula College, California.