Real name: Леонид Осипович Утёсов (Лазарь Иосифович Вайсбейн)
Effective period / Period of releases: 1937 - 2004Leonid Osipovich Utyosov (Russian: Леонид Осипович Утёсов; real name - Leyzer (Lazar) Vaysbeyn, or Weissbein, Russian: Лазарь (Лейзер) Иосифович Ва(й)сбейн, 21 March [O.S. March 9] 1895 in, Odessa - 9 March 1982, Moscow) was a famous Soviet jazz singer and comic actor, who became the first pop singer to be awarded the prestigious title of People's Artist of the USSR (1965).
Leonid Utyosov was brought up in Odessa and attended the Faig School of Commerce, from which he dropped out and joined the Borodanov Circus troupe as an acrobat. He started his stage career in 1911 in Kremenchug, then returned to Odessa, changed his artistic name to Leonid Utyosov, and performed as a stand up comedian with the Rosanov troupe and with the Rishelyavsky Theattre. In 1917, he won a singing competition in Gomel, Belarus, then performed in Moscow.
Leonid Utyosov and his band in the 1950s.
Stamp of Russia devoted to Leonid Utyosov, 1999, 2 rub. (Michel 756, Scott 6542)
In the 1920s he moved to Leningrad and set up one of the first Soviet jazz bands. In Leningrad he began collaboration with the popular composer Isaak Dunayevsky, which became quintessential for both artists. At that time, Utyosov gathered a band of best musicians available in Leningrad, and created a style of his own - a jazz show with a stand up comedy, which blended several styles, ranging from Russian folk songs to a variety of international cosmopolitan genres. In 1928 Utyosov made a concert tour in Europe and attended performances of American jazz bands, which influenced his own style. During the 1930s Utyosov and his band named "Tea-Jazz" (which means Theatrical Jazz) had a regular gig at the Marble Hall of the Kirov Palace of Culture in Leningrad. Utyosov's jazz band also performed at the Leningrad Maly Opera theatre, at the "Svoboda -teatr" and at the Leningrad Music Hall. In his performances Utyosov delivered a variety of musical styles, including such genres as American jazz, Argentine tango, French chanson, upbeat dance, and the Russian folk music.
His popularity was on the rise in the 1930s when he co-starred with Lyubov Orlova in the comedy Jolly Fellows. In it, Utyosov performed such hits as Serdtse, Me and My Masha at the Samovar and Tired Sun, also known in English as "Burnt by the Sun" (revived by Nikita Mikhalkov as a theme for his eponymous Oscar-winning movie). During the Second World War, Utyosov performed at the front lines, helping lift the spirits of the Russian soldiers fighting against the Nazis. On the Victory Day (May 9, 1945) he performed on Sverdlov Square in Moscow.