Events Calendars

Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War

Other - Lecture/Discussion

Wednesday, October 23, 2013
7:00 PM-9:00 PM

Dana Commons
Higgins Lounge

At the height of the ideological antagonism of the Cold War, the U.S. State Department unleashed an unexpected tool in its battle against Communism: jazz. From 1956 through the late 1970s, America dispatched its finest jazz musicians to the far corners of the earth, from Iraq to India, from the Congo to the Soviet Union, in order to win the hearts and minds of the Third World and to counter perceptions of American racism. Historian Penny Von Eschen will focus on the early years of the tours, as Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and other jazz luminaries spread their music and their ideas further than the State Department anticipated. Her talk explores the freedom afforded by creativity, music, and mobility and how jazz both served and challenged political notions of freedom. Both in concert and after hours, through political statements and romantic liaisons, these musicians broke through the governments official narrative and gave their audiences an unprecedented vision of the black American experience. In the process, new collaborations developed between Americans and the formerly colonized peoples of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East  collaborations that fostered greater racial pride and solidarity.

Cost: free

Suggested Audiences: Adult, College

Phone: 508-793-7479

Last Modified: September 6, 2013 at 1:20 PM


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