The United States made jazz music a central element of its containment policy during the Cold War, hoping that it could help dispel beliefs in communism and foster liberalization. Both at home and abroad, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs turned the paragons of free jazz from the 1960s and 1970s into icons of its jazz policy. As an instrument of containment, jazz symbolized anti-communism, but the 1970s saw the United States try to create more stable, open relations with communist countries. By the end of the 1960s, however, the vulnerabilities of Cold War cultural policy became apparent. In particular, jazz diplomacy highlighted the unequivocal limitations of a democracy in the conduct of foreign affairs. America had to change its cultural policy in the wake of the crisis sparked by the Vietnam War. Moreover, jazz diplomacy often revealed the tense race relations in the cultural and political arenas. The allure and diffusion of modern jazz and Western cultural values, combined with recurrent challenges to the Soviet Union’s political and economic leadership, brought an end to the Cold War.
Keywords: jazz music, Cold War, Cultural Affairs, jazz diplomacy, cultural policy, democracy, foreign affairs, America, race relations, Soviet Union