Monday, November 07, 2005

State Department sends N.O. musicians on world tour

Back in the early days of the Cold War, the US State Department used jazz, and tours by American jazz musicians as a signifcant part of the nation's public diplomacy efforts. Some of the biggest jazz stars went on long, continent wide tours of "third world" nations. Dizzy Gillespie went on a noteable tour of South America, Dave Brubeck took his acclaimed quartet all the way to Afghanistan, and many others brought jazz to millions for the very first time. These tours were quite a big deal in the 60's, and while I'm not sure they stopped altogether they certainly haven't been as prominent, at least within the US jazz community. Perhaps that's because jazz is so widely accepted and appreciated across the world today, or it reflects a change in the geo-political climate and the cultural one upsmanship that was a product of a showdown between two superpowers.

Given the current state of the world, and the somewhat tarnished opinion many abroad have of America, I've often thought it would be a great thing to bring back such a program, not to spew propoganda or advocate anything at all. Rather just an effort to bring unite different peoples through music in the spirit of goodwill.

It is in this spirit I suppose that the US State Department and Jazz at Lincoln Center are organizing a tour of New Orleans area musicians in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Included sixteen nation tour are trumpeter James Andrew and the New Orleans All-Stars, clarinetist and vocalist Doreen Ketchens, trumpeter Marlon Jordan and his quartet, the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Collective, and the 44-year-old Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The tour will take them to Senegal, Morocco, Eygpt, Qatar, Kuwait, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Romania, Germany, Lithuania, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, India, and Saudi Arabia in the months of November and December.

More info...


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