R.I.P. Alexey Batashev, the pioneer of Soviet jazz historiography, whose groundbreaking book, “Soviet Jazz” (1972,) laid the foundations for the written history of jazz in Russia and was later adapted and enhanced for the Western market by S. Frederik Starr as “Red And Hot: The Fate of Jazz in Soviet Union.”
Batashev also pioneered the Russian-American jazz contacts, promoting in the Soviet media and radio channels he worked for the American jazz artists who toured Russia in 1970s and 80s, as well as facilitating the earliest appearances of touring Soviet jazz musicians in the U.S. in the late 80s. He visited the U.S. several times in the late 1980s and early 90s, emceeing for the Russian artists he brought to the U.S. to play, and speaking at jazz history classes at about 20 American universities. He also facilitated many other international jazz ties, including jazz contacts between Russia and Poland in the 1960s and 70s, for which he was decorated by the Polish Order of Cultural Merit together with Willis Conover (in 1977).
In Russia, he was generally a jazz luminary extraordinaire during the last three decades of the Soviet era (until 1991) and the first decade and a half of the post-Soviet period in Russia. He wrote numerous books and articles in Russian, including a few dozen titles for Jazz.Ru Magazine when our publication debuted online in 1998, and remained active as our occasional correspondent well into the 2000s. His immense legacy is yet to be eulogized.
Alexey passed away on May 14, of Covid-19, aged 86. May he rest in power.