History

The Jazz Ambassadors

The Cold War and civil rights collide in this remarkable story of music, diplomacy and race. Beginning in 1955, when America asked its greatest jazz artists to travel the world as cultural ambassadors, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and their racially diverse band members faced a painful dilemma: How could they represent a country that still practiced Jim Crow segregation?

The Jazz Ambassadors - Trailer

3m

Discover how the Cold War and Civil Rights movement collided when America asked Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman to travel as cultural ambassadors and combat racially-charged Soviet propaganda through their music.

Extras + Features

  • Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Teams Up with Dizzy Gillespie: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Teams Up with Dizzy Gillespie

    S1 E1 - 2m 15s

    In 1955, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. convinced U.S. leaders that jazz was the best way to intervene in the Cold War cultural conflict, with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie becoming the first jazz ambassador to help counter Soviet stories about American racism.

  • The Jazz Ambassadors - Trailer: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Jazz Ambassadors - Trailer

    S1 E1 - 3m

    Discover how the Cold War and Civil Rights movement collided when America asked Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman to travel as cultural ambassadors and combat racially-charged Soviet propaganda through their music.

  • Louis Armstrong: America’s Cultural Ambassador: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Louis Armstrong: America’s Cultural Ambassador

    S1 E1 - 2m 30s

    Willis Conover’s popular Voice of America radio show gave American jazz a worldwide stage, and Louis Armstrong, its brightest star, was ready for the spotlight. A front-page story in The New York Times claimed America’s best Cold War weapon was “a blue note in a minor key,” and that Armstrong was its best ambassador.

  • Duke Ellington on "American music".: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Duke Ellington on "American music".

    S1 E1 - 1m 27s

    In summer 1963, Duke Ellington headed to the Middle East and India on his first Jazz Ambassador tour. In a rare Swedish Television interview, he discusses the plight of African Americans, their contributions to society, and jazz music as “the American music.”

Schedule

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