Louis Armstrong and wife Lucille at the Pyramids of Giza, 1961
As Time.com’s Billy Perrigo reminds us in his excellent December 22 piece “How the U.S. Used Jazz as a Cold War Secret Weapon,” the U.S. State Department “hoped that showcasing popular American music around the globe would not only introduce audiences to American culture, but also win them over as ideological allies in the cold war,” and that jazz, in particular the music of Armstrong, Gillespie and Brubeck could help “keep communism at bay by whatever means possible.”
The history Perrigo brings up is itself well-traveled, having been explored in depth by several writers, notably Satchmo Blows Up the World author Penny Von Eschen, who he quotes in his piece and who I was fortunate to interview a decade ago. But Time‘s revisit of this exposes a large audience (with new readers, perhaps) to jazz music’s rich contributions to world culture, and its critical and historic connection to politics. So, consider this a Christmas present from Time…
You can read the entire piece by clicking here.