Submitted by ub on Thu, 03/08/2012 - 12:11

"...Up until the late 80's, it was not officially forbidden, but you were always like marked: 'Ah, he's interested in jazz. He's with Western culture. He's potentially enemy of the state.' ...Jazz music more than any other form of art makes a person free. Playing music or listening to it you don't have to adhere to Soviet laws. And those laws were so artificial, so brutal, so unnatural. Here, listening or playing you could be yourself. You're free. You're free from that nonsense."

-Trumpeter Valery Ponomarev

During The Cold War with the Soviet Union, the United States had a secret weapon: Willis Conover's "Jazz Hour," carried on the shortwave radio signals of The Voice of America across Russia and Eastern Europe. Starting in 1955 and running for over forty years, "Jazz Hour" nurtured generations of jazz musicians who grew up under the restrictions of Communism. On this edition of Jazz Stories we hear Willis Conover and two outstanding jazz musicians, Czech bassist George Mraz and Russian trumpeter Valery Ponomarev - both of whom learned about jazz from his broadcasts.