Andropov's hit parade

Is it all just a PR job - the bits of information coming out to make Yuri Andropov, former KGB villain, a Soviet leader with a human face? Even if it is, we're glad to hear that he likes American popular music. And his choice of favorites - Glenn Miller and Miles Davis - is very interesting for the head of a party disdaining capitalism and, horrors, individualism.

For Miller became a commercial product of the sort capitalism is a past master at promoting. But his big band had a distinctive sound that still echoes down the years in various guises.

As for trumpeter Miles Davis, he remains the quintessential individualist, whose attitude toward the audience has often been such that it made news to call one of his record albums ''Miles Smiles.'' With his air of playing when he feels like it - and yet so often playing so superbly - he would never be at home in the Soviet jazz bands we hear about: bands that are permitted according to government quota and assigned to play by bureaucratic decree.

If Mr. Andropov enjoys Americans like these, he should get to know some of the rest of them.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.