BBC Radio 3: Drama on 3
Broadcast: Sunday 6th February 2005 @ 8:15 p.m.
Playwright David Zane Mairowitz and composer Dominic Muldowney, whose last Radio 3 drama collaboration, "The Voluptious Tango", won a Prix Italia in 1997, have created "Red Razzmatazz", a radio-opera set in Moscow in 1948.
Under Stalin, jazz in the Soviet Union was strictly controlled, with guidelines laid down for what could or could not be played or sung. The saxophone was outlawed; a double bass was permitted, but only if played with a bow. Plucking at it with the fingers was somehow considered indecent and subsequently disallowed. A trumpet could be played, but never with a metal insert to create a "wah-wah" effect. The most essential ban was on improvising of any kind. Jazz music had to be played or sung to orchestrated arrangements and written in partitions. No deviation into improvised jamming was permitted, and this was strictly controlled by the official musicians' union.
With jazz more or less forbidden, a young and crazy unemployed musician - reputed to be the best saxophonist in Russia - imports an illegal saxophone into the Soviet Union....
With Nick Holder ['Crooked Jimmy'], Natalie Turner Jones [Rivka], Richard Morris [Vinogradeff / Chorus], Stephen Boxer [Commissar / The Radio Voice], and Mary Carewe, Gordon Adams, Adam Goodman, Richard Garth [The Chorus of Commissars].
"Red Razzmatazz" was composed by Dominic Muldowney to a libretto by David Zane Mairowitz.
The saxophone and clarinet was played by Jon Hall.
Directed by Dominic Muldowney and David Zane Mairowitz.
Produced by Jeremy Mortimer.
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