Stan BH Tan-Tangbau et al., “Jazz in Socialist Hà Nội: Improvisations Between Worlds” (Routledge, 2022)

Jazz in Socialist Hà Nội: Improvisations between Worlds (Routledge, 2022) examines the germination and growth of jazz under communist rule—perceived as the “music of the enemy” and “ideologically decadent”—in the Vietnamese capital of Hà Nội. After disappearing from the scene in 1954 following the end of the First Indochina War, jazz reemerged in the public sphere decades later at the end of the Cold War. Since then, Hà Nội has established itself as a vital and vibrant jazz center, complete with a full jazz program in the national conservatoire. Featuring interviews with principal players involved in cultivating the scene from past to present, this book presents the sociocultural encounters between musicians and the larger powers enmeshed in the broader political economy, detailing jazz’s journey to garner respect comparable to classical music as an art form possessing high artistic value. Ethnographical sketches explore how Vietnamese musicians learn and play jazz while sustaining and nurturing the scene, providing insight as to how jazz managed to grow in such an environment. Jazz in Socialist Hà Nội sheds light on those underlying caveats that allow Vietnamese jazz musicians to navigate the middle grounds between “worlds”—between music and politics—not as an act of resistance, but as realisation of artistic expression.

Adam Bobeck is a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Leipzig. His PhD is entitled “Object-Oriented Azadari: Shi’i Muslim Rituals and Ontology”. For more about his work, see

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