Saturday, May 2, 2015

A facebook exchange on the jazz ambassadors during the Cold War

A screening of a landmark Louis Armstrong concert in East Berlin sparks reflections on an era when jazz was a highly effective foreign policy tool.
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  • That's what it was really all about and the key to understanding the incredible popularity of Willis Conover's programs on the Voice of America in all countries to which it was broadcast - whether free, partly free or totalitarian. Jazz symbolized freedom and was a manifestation of the human spirit which pursues that elusive, and sometimes inexplicable, ideal.

  • John Brown Of course, the irony is that at that time (early Cold War) -- and still now -- black Americans (BTW, I constantly question Census-defined racial categories) were sent overseas by the USG to proclaim the "music of freedom" when black musical performers were essentially considered second-class citizens in the USA. My hunch -- and I could be wrong about this -- is that jazz for Eastern European audiences [during the Cold War] was not so much the "music of freedom" -- as it was the music of "suffering," the kind of suffering/humiliation endured f[in that part of the world] for centuries under various empires/vampires. No wonder jazz was so popular in EE, as its population -- historically deprived of 18th-century WASP definitions of freedom [to simplify] -- could empathize with Satchmo, whose ancestors were transported as slaves (slavs?) in the New World.
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