Dave Brubeck on being a Jazz Ambassador
Now, A Jazz Moment...
MUSIC: "Remember Who You Are," CD: The Real Ambassadors
(Armstrong vocals begin) "Remember who you are and what you represent. Always be a credit to your government..."
In the late 1950s, a historic diplomatic program arose under the direction of President Dwight Eisenhower in which American jazz musicians were sent to unstable regions of the world as cultural ambassadors of the United States. Among them were Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and NEA Jazz Master Dave Brubeck...
Dave Brubeck: We were sent to where there were going to be problems. We first went to Poland, played twelve concerts there, then Turkey, East and West Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Ceylon, Iran and Iraq. It was, I think, doing some good because the intellectuals in the various countries were very interested in Jazz. The United States had sent Symphony orchestras to India and we were out-drawing them by far. And this held true in every country. And we were out 120 days without a day off. And it was some rough travel. The water wasn't fit to drink, but you got so thirsty you drank it. And they didn't want us to come home; they wanted us to stay out.
MUSIC: (post on Armstrong vocal)
"...a weapon that no other nation has, especially the Russians can't claim jazz. Remember who you are and what you represent, represent, represent..."
This Jazz Moment with pianist Dave Brubeck on the historic "Jazz Ambassadors" program of the 1950s and '60s was created by the National Endowment or the Arts. I'm Delfeayo Marsalis.