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The Paradox of Jazz Diplomacy, 1961–1966

The Paradox of Jazz Diplomacy, 1961–1966

Chapter:
(p.89) Chapter 4 The Paradox of Jazz Diplomacy, 1961–1966
Source:
Jazz Diplomacy
Author(s):
Lisa E. Davenport
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781604732689.003.0005

In the 1960s, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (CU) could not contain international criticism of cultural affairs. Racial conflicts and the Vietnam War amplified the paradox of jazz diplomacy on the world stage, leading to a profound reassessment of jazz policies. Believing that jazz diplomacy was no longer viable, the CU consequently suspended jazz tours, reinstating them only in the mid-1960s. Despite the emergence of jazz music as a reflection of American freedom and racial equality, the American image grew increasingly enigmatic amid the Cold War confrontations between communism and democracy. Jazz musicians, particularly Louis Armstrong, embodied the spirit of republicanism America wanted to spread abroad. Hoping to address the changing dynamics of communism and the color line, President John F. Kennedy initiated moves that reinforced the efficacy of culture in the Cold War rivalry, and, in Africa, attempted to employ jazz to showcase the resilience of American culture and promote the idea of “jazzocracy.” Acknowledging the dramatic impact of jazz internationalism, the CU embarked on a new era of Cold War cultural expansion.

Keywords:   jazz diplomacy, Cultural Affairs, jazz music, Cold War, communism, democracy, jazz musicians, Louis Armstrong, John F. Kennedy, Africa

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