Saxophonist Bob Belden backstage with Iranian musicians
During the Cold War era, America fought back with, among other “weapons,” the Jazz Ambassadors. Led by Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and others, these artists, in the words of Penny Von Eschen, author of Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War, “were cultural translators who inspired the vision and shaped its contours, constituting themselves as international ambassadors by taking on the contradictions of Cold War internationalism.” In a February 23 New York Times piece by Thomas Erdbrink called “Rebirth of the Cool: American Music Makes a Return to Iran,” the effect of a modern day jazz ambassadorship – this one led by saxophonist Bob Belden — is again a topic of great interest. You can read the story by clicking here.
Bob Belden’s ensemble plays “Genesis”
Read my interview with Penny Von Eschen, author of Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War