My first concerts in Moscow were in 1987. The Dave Brubeck Quartet was
perceived as a symbol of Gorbachev's new policy of glasnost; and jazz fans,
who knew my music from the Voice of America broadcasts and smuggled
LPs, rejoiced in their newly discovered freedom. Repeatedly I heard the
remark: "I never dreamed this could happen in my lifetime."
Because of the success of that tour of the Soviet Union, President and Mrs.
Reagan invited me and the Quartet to come to the Moscow Summit in 1988
to perform at Spaso House, the residence of the American ambassador.
That memorable night I looked out from the stage to a room full of
American and Soviet diplomats, statesmen, bureaucrats, generals,
dissidents, and cultural icons from both nations and was amazed at how
similar they were to any toe-tapping, head nodding audience anywhere in
the world. For that moment, at least, all were united in the music.
Ten years elapsed before my return to Moscow. This time I saw the new
Russia. The reactions from the people we met, whether curious students or
interested musicians in the orchestra and chorus, were fascinating to hear
and see. Not only was the performance of a liturgical mass (so recently
forbidden by the State) an inconceivable event in Russia, but also a mass
with jazz improvisation! That was something almost beyond their
comprehension. And yet, all the performers threw themselves into the
rehearsals and performance with great emotion and ardor.
When I viewed this brilliantly produced documentary film I found my
interest in these performers and the reaction of the Russian audience to be
as compelling as the thrill of hearing my music performed so beautifully. I,
too, never dreamed that this could happen in my lifetime. How wonderful
it is to have those memorable events so faithfully recounted in this
documentary of my return to Moscow. I hope this film can have as wide
an audience as possible.