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Jazz DiplomacyPromoting America in the Cold War Era$
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Lisa E. Davenport

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781604732689

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604732689.001.0001

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Bedlam from the Decadent West, 1967–1968

Bedlam from the Decadent West, 1967–1968

(p.129) Chapter 6 Bedlam from the Decadent West, 1967–1968
Jazz Diplomacy

Lisa E. Davenport

University Press of Mississippi

In the late 1960s several prominent figures associated with American jazz music traveled to the Soviet bloc and promoted the cause of cultural internationalism, turning the Soviet jazz world on its head and giving new meaning to the sentiments of renowned Soviet writer Maxim Gorky that jazz was “bedlam from the decadent West.” Charles Lloyd, Gerry Mulligan, and Willis Conover showcased the redemptive aspects of American society to the Soviets even as the United States was being hounded by protests against the Vietnam War. The war continually intensified tensions between America and the Soviet Union, shattering the Cold War liberal consensus that had shaped American policy for most of the 1950s and 1960s. President Lyndon B. Johnson could no longer justify a foreign policy that was in conflict with a pluralistic democracy. In addition to the momentous travels of Lloyd, Mulligan, and Conover, two other pivotal events ignited the jazz fervor in the Eastern bloc: the official tour of the Earl Hines New Orleans-style jazz band in 1966; and the death of John Coltrane.

Keywords:   jazz music, Soviet bloc, cultural internationalism, Charles Lloyd, Vietnam War, America, Soviet Union, Cold War, foreign policy, John Coltrane

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