Jazz as an instrument of global diplomacy transformed superpower relations in the Cold War era and reshaped democracy's image worldwide. Lisa E. Davenport tells the story of America's program of jazz diplomacy practiced in the Soviet Union and other regions of the world from 1954 to 1968. Jazz music and jazz musicians seemed an ideal card to play in diminishing the credibility and appeal of Soviet communism in the Eastern bloc and beyond.
Government-funded musical junkets by such jazz masters as Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Benny Goodman dramatically influenced perceptions of the U. S. and its capitalist brand of democracy while easing political tensions in the midst of critical Cold War crises. This book shows how, when coping with foreign questions about desegregation, the dispute over the Berlin Wall, the Cuban missile crisis, Vietnam, and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, jazz players and their handlers wrestled with the inequalities of race and the emergence of class conflict while promoting America in a global context. And, as jazz musicians are wont to do, many of these ambassadors riffed off script when the opportunity arose.
Jazz Diplomacy argues that this musical method of winning hearts and minds often transcended economic and strategic priorities. Even so, the goal of containing communism remained paramount, and it prevailed over America's policy of redefining relations with emerging new nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
"Lisa E. Davenport persuasively argues for jazz diplomacy as an innovative factor in the U.S. Foreign Policy of Containment, which was effectively utilized during the Cold War era to interrupt the spread of communism. Davenport makes excellent use of an array of archival sources and interviews, notably in Russia, and offers new and intriguing insights on the United States' ability to prevail over the Soviets in its effort to maintain democracy's superiority over communism."
Barbara P. Josiah, historian at John Jay College, City University of New York
French concert music and jazz often enjoyed a special creative exchange across the period 1900-65. French modernist composers were particularly receptive to early African-American jazz during the interwar years, and American jazz musicians, especially those concerned with modal jazz in the 1950s and early 1960s, exhibited a distinct affinity with French musical impressionism. However, despite a general, if contested, interest in the cultural interplay of classical music and jazz, few writers have probed the specific French music-jazz relationship in depth.
In this book, Deborah Mawer sets such musical interplay within its historical-cultural and critical-analytical contexts, offering a detailed yet accessible account of both French and American perspectives. Blending intertextuality with more precise borrowing techniques, Mawer presents case studies on the musical interactions of a wide range of composers and performers, including Debussy, Satie, Milhaud, Ravel, Jack Hylton, George Russell, Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck.
"This is the book for which jazz scholarship has long been waiting: at last, the hugely significant interactions between jazz and modern concert music have been unravelled with the insight, technical understanding and contextual awareness they deserve. Professor Mawer delves deeply into this two-way process in a series of fascinating case studies which celebrate some of the most exciting and far-reaching musical cross-fertilizations of the twentieth century."
Mervyn Cooke, Professor of Music, University of Nottingham
"At once an important survey of French music and jazz history, Mawer's book also brilliantly draws attention to the compelling cross-references and interactions between these worlds. The theoretical sophistication of the academy seamlessly merges with the dynamism of a jazz club, and the resulting mix has the intellectual and musical power of both."
Michael Beckerman, Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Music, New York University