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Jazz and Public Diplomacy

From: Murray Street Productions
Series: JazzStories
Length: 11:34

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He wasn’t political about it. He didn’t particularly talk about politics and stuff. He did it his own way. He didn’t have to talk about that. All he had to do was be his beautiful self and play and sing. That was enough. -- Joe Muranyi The Soviets were very active sending art around the world – The Bolshoi Ballet… [President Eisenhower says] we can’t compete with the Bolshoi or European classical music, but the Russians can’t claim jazz. -- DR. Penny Von Eschen

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In the 1950’s during the Cold War, the U.S. State Department made a conscious choice to use jazz as a ‘cultural weapon’ -- dispatching musicians to friendly and not so friendly countries, to burnish America’s image abroad.   Louis Armstrong made many trips for the State Department, and the late clarinetist Joe Muranyi played in the final version of the Louis Armstrong All-Stars, who made one of those trips to Tunisia in 1967.
In this excerpt from a 2009 JALC Jazz Talk, Joe Muranyi joins Dr. Penny Von Eschen, author of “Satchmo Blows Up The World: Jazz Musicians Play The Cold War,” and moderator Dr. Lewis Porter in a discussion of  jazz and public diplomacy.

Piece Description

In the 1950’s during the Cold War, the U.S. State Department made a conscious choice to use jazz as a ‘cultural weapon’ -- dispatching musicians to friendly and not so friendly countries, to burnish America’s image abroad.   Louis Armstrong made many trips for the State Department, and the late clarinetist Joe Muranyi played in the final version of the Louis Armstrong All-Stars, who made one of those trips to Tunisia in 1967.
In this excerpt from a 2009 JALC Jazz Talk, Joe Muranyi joins Dr. Penny Von Eschen, author of “Satchmo Blows Up The World: Jazz Musicians Play The Cold War,” and moderator Dr. Lewis Porter in a discussion of  jazz and public diplomacy.