And what a story. An obscure region in the former USSR and it's state ran label is a gold mine in the hands of The Hague born Stephan 'Mentz' Raab:
I asked him to give us some more insight into the process behind the mix and the label involved. His reply:
"I have picked for you all different flowers, I would put them on your chest - my love, as beautiful buttons"
A short translation of text from the latest mentz jazz mix, containing only records from the Melodiya label which was officially established in 1964 as the "All-Union Gramophone Record Firm of the USSR Ministry of Culture Melodiya".
For me the love for this beautiful (and also strange) former Soviet state owned recording label started quite some time ago when getting a selection eastern European music from Looza, opening my eyes that there was more to this label than tons of classical music, poorly covered pop and dreadful traditional folk. On the contrary, it was amazing.
Exploring the Melodiya catalog is challenging to say the least. There are thousands of (documented) releases with often different pressings/numbers/covers (or the lack of them) and last but not least many of it is in Russian. For a Dutch guy like me, it needs a system, time and simply small strokes of luck to find gems.
In this mix, I have tried to blend a personal story together, reflecting the heights and depths of this musical landscape. From deep Leviathan vocal ensembles to heavy Georgian love songs and some stunning (and uplifting) recordings from the Moscow Jazz festival in the 60ies, it's all in there... Get moved and get lost..
If you are interested in finding out more and need a starting point: sovjetgroove.com is a very nice blog posting many, many Melodiya records. If you don't want to spend any time, simply waiting might pay off as well. I for sure am going to do a "part II" of my mix and besides that Melodiya artists are still being featured on recent compilations (the "Spiritual Jazz" compilations on Jazzman records to name an example)