Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Real Lincoln Center Ambassadors

When Dave Brubeck wrote the musical The Real Ambassadors for Louis Armstrong, many jazz musicians, like Satchmo, were touring non-aligned countries on behalf of the U.S. State Department. Ambassadors asked who was the real ambassador, the cautious State Dept. bureaucrat or the swinging jazz musican?

Jazz proved a particularly potent weapon for cultural outreach during the Cold War, producing many high-profile successes, including jam sessions with Benny Goodman and the King of Thailand. According to Jazz Week (3/27/06) State will soon promote a similar tour of South Africa, reporting:

“The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will sponsor Jazz at Lincoln Center’s first ever South African cultural exchange program with the Field Band Foundation to produce performances and educational events throughout Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town.”

Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon will lead a seven piece group from J@LC during the May tour. I’ve enjoyed Godon’s playing as leader, and as a longtime member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and Wynton Marsalis’s 1990’s Septet. He’ll definitely bring the swing.