Night Lights Classic Jazz

Jazz Goes to the Cold War

In the 1950s and 60s, as the Cold War & the civil-rights movement heated up, the U.S. State Department sent jazz musicians on goodwill tours around the world.

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Louis ArmstrongThis week on Night Lights it’s “Jazz Goes to the Cold War,” a program about the U.S. State Department’s sponsorship of international jazz tours during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1956, as both the Cold War and the civil-rights movement heated up, the American government asked Dizzy Gillespie to assemble a new big band to promote the image of American freedom around the globe. Gillespie obliged, although he made it clear that he would not feel compelled to “promote racist policies.” He was the first of a number of jazz artists to undertake such a tour, including Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong. We’ll hear music from all of those musicians (Ellington’s Far East Suite, inspired by his 1963 State Department tour, Gillespie’s live Dizzy in South America V. 1, and Brubeck’s The Real Ambassadors, a 1962 civil-rights musical that took an ironic look at bureaucratic sponsorship of jazz) and discuss Penny von Eschen’s new book, Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War, now available from Harvard University Press.

Music Heard On This Episode

Miss D.D.
Mary Lou Williams — Black Christ of the Andes (Smithsonian Folkways, 1964)
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Miss D.D.
Mary Lou Williams — Black Christ of the Andes (Smithsonian Folkways, 1964)

Notes: Opening theme.

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Cultural Exchange
Dave Brubeck — The Real Ambassadors (Columbia/Legacy, 1961)

Notes: With Lambert, Hendricks & Ross and Louis Armstrong; also available on VOCAL ENCOUNTERS.

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Manteca
Dizzy Gillespie — Dizzy in South America V. 1 (CAP, 1956)
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Tangorine
Dizzy Gillespie — Birks' Works (Verve, 1957)
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The Real Ambassador
Dave Brubeck — The Real Ambassadors (Columbia/Legacy, 1961)

Notes: With Louis Armstrong and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross

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They Say I Look Like God
Dave Brubeck — The Real Ambassadors (Columbia/Legacy, 1961)

Notes: With Louis Armstrong and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross

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Remember Who You Are
Dave Brubeck — The Real Ambassadors (Columbia/Legacy, 1961)

Notes: With Louis Armstrong and Trummy Young.

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Tourist Point of View
Duke Ellington — Far East Suite (Bluebird, 1966)
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Isfahan
Duke Ellington — Far East Suite (Bluebird, 1966)
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Blue Pepper (Far East of the Blues)
Duke Ellington — Far East Suite (Bluebird, 1966)
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Narration
Edward R. Murrow — Satchmo the Great (Columbia/Legacy 62170, 1956)
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Oh Didn't He Ramble
Louis Armstrong — Satchmo the Great (Columbia/Legacy, 1956)
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What Did I Do to Be So Black and Blue
Louis Armstrong — Satchmo the Great (Columbia/Legacy, 1956)
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Swing Bells/Blow Satchmo/Finale
Dave Brubeck — The Real Ambassadors (Columbia/Legacy, 1961)

Notes: With Louis Armstrong and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross

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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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