International Social Science Review

Dizzy Gillespie, jazz, and the cultural politics of the cold war during the Eisenhower administration

“Those white guys are working for me”: Dizzy Gillespie, jazz, and the cultural politics of the cold war during the Eisenhower administration

David M. Carletta

Convinced that cultural influence was linked to political and economic power, the Eisenhower administration (1953-61) sponsored America’s premier jazz musicians’ goodwill tours abroad as part of its cultural foreign policy agenda. These tours helped the United States government in its global propaganda campaign against the Soviet Union and its communist allies, who widely reported and successfully exploited the racial tension and violence that accompanied the rise of the civil rights movement in the United States. These “jazz ambassadors” also helped the United States government counter claims made by communist propagandists that hyper-materialistic capitalists were “cultural barbarians” who produced commodities rather than sophisticated culture. (1) In short, they helped the Eisenhower administration combat communism during the early years of the Cold War.

Wary that the Soviets were making political gains around the world through their cultural diplomacy offensive, (2) the Eisenhower administration launched a two-pronged effort to counter communist propaganda activities. In August 1953, it established the United States Information Agency (USIA) an agency within the executive branch, separate from the State Department, to support American foreign policy objectives and national interests around the world. The agency was active in anticommunism propaganda, particularly efforts to refute the anti-capitalist rhetoric of TASS, the official news agency of the Soviet government. USIA’s mass media activities were buttressed by its operation of libraries, cultural exhibits, and exchange programs overseas. (3) One year later, President Dwight D. Eisenhower secured emergency funding from Congress for “psychological” anti-communist programs. In both 1954 and 1955, the President’s Emergency Fund for International Affairs spent $5 million to support the presentation of American industrial and cultural accomplishments abroad. In 1956, Congress enacted the International Cultural Exchange and Trade Fair Participation Act, establishing permanent funding for the Eisenhower administration’s cultural international relations programs. (4)

In addition to establishing the USIA, securing funding for its cultural foreign relations programs, and providing economic, military, and technical foreign assistance, the Eisenhower administration used the State Department to sponsor cultural programs as a means of bolstering American influence throughout the world. Wide-ranging psychological warfare programs were developed both at home and abroad, including campaigns such as Atoms for Peace and People-to-People, that presented to the world an image of daily life in the United States where its citizens enjoyed fulfilling and cheery lives in a classless society where economic abundance was shared by all. (5) Jazz was incorporated into this cultural diplomacy offensive.

These tours, inspired by the success of the Voice of America radio show Music, U.S.A., financed by the State Department, and promoted by USIA, served the needs of the United States government, civil rights advocates, and those interested in securing federal support for the arts. The State Department sent interracial jazz bands overseas to portray an image of the nation progressing towards racial harmony and to prove to the world that the capitalist system bestowed cultural as well as material benefits upon those who embraced it. Civil rights advocates tried to exploit the United States government’s pursuit of global leadership by linking moral credibility in foreign relations to domestic justice and equality. At the same time, many of the nation’s politicians and cultural enthusiasts used the Cold War to seek federal support for the arts, arguing that the arts were a feature of national prestige that could serve as a useful tool for attracting allies. (6) That argument influenced the State Department’s decision to use jazz to portray a positive image of African-American life. This, in turn, served the interests of the music and its admirers, who sought to take advantage of the nation’s cultural battle with communism in order to preserve jazz as a valuable American art form, broaden its audience, and sustain the big band jazz format during hard economic times.

The legendary trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie headed the first jazz band sent on a State Department-sponsored overseas tour in 1956. Two years earlier, in May 1954, the United States Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, had ordered the nation’s public school systems to desegregate, unleashing a wave of anti-black protests throughout the southern states that were publicized in the global mass media. Later that same year, Rosa Parks, an African-American seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, had disregarded the order of a local bus driver and refused to give up her seat to a white person and move to the back of the bus. Her arrest for violating “Jim Crow” segregation laws ignited a year-long citywide boycott of Montgomery’s bus system that brought civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., to national attention. (7) Gillespie’s tour, which followed these momentous events, demonstrated how African-American goodwill ambassadors played a special role in the United States government’s cultural diplomacy agenda as the struggle for civil rights at home had global significance for American foreign policy during the Cold War. The success of Gillespie’s tour led to an expansion of the use of jazz as part of the United States government’s Cold War cultural offensive. Gillespie’s experience, in turn, illustrates how these goodwill tours offered jazz a new lease on life and increased its international following at a time when rock ‘n’ roll was replacing jazz as America’s popular music.

This study on the significance of jazz in Cold War cultural politics enriches the expanding body of literature that examines the relationship between diplomatic and cultural history. (8) Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, there has been both a cultural turn in Cold War studies and calls for internationalizing the study of American history. There also has been increased interest in exploring the intersection of domestic racial politics and American foreign relations. As part of this effort to reconceptualize the study of America’s past within a global context by examining the influence of international developments on the nation’s political, social, cultural, economic, and intellectual life, many historians and legal scholars are now paying more attention to the linkage between the international arena and the African American struggle for equality. Carol Anderson has studied the failed efforts of U.S. civil rights organizations to register their complaints at the United Nations. Thomas Borstelmann has described the connection between the civil rights struggle at home and anti-colonialism and the Cold War abroad. Mary L. Dudziak has studied how the State Department and the USIA presented the issue of race in America to foreign audiences between the end of the Second World War and the 1960s. Kevin Gaines has investigated the critique of both colonialism and United States racial practices by African-American expatriates in Ghana. Michael L. Krenn has explored African-American leaders’ use of their government’s anti-communism to pressure Washington to live up to its democratic rhetoric. Brenda Gayle Plummer has documented how African-American organizations pressed the United States government to recognize race as a global concern and to recognize the link between domestic racism and foreign policy concerns. And Penny M. Von Eschen has shown how African-American activists, artists, intellectuals, and writers linked domestic and global racism. (9) Such studies have led Jonathan Rosenberg to argue that one cannot fully comprehend the civil rights movement in the United States during the mid-twentieth century without first understanding how African Americans perceived and made use of international affairs to advance their cause. (10)

By highlighting the issues of federal support for the arts and the development of jazz as a serious art form in their international contexts, this study of Gillespie’s groundbreaking State Department-sponsored jazz tour explores the role of culture in diplomatic history and, conversely, the role of foreign policy in shaping cultural history. In so doing, it builds on Von Eschen’s survey of these tours, which emphasizes the “disparities between the aims of the artists and those of government officials, and between their respective views of American culture.” (11) Unfortunately, she neglects to take into account the domestic issue of federal support for the arts. In an effort to fill this gap, this study explores the confluence of interests between United States policymakers, musicians, and jazz aficionados. Federal support for the arts, the African-American civil rights struggle, and the foreign policy of anti-communism are interwoven issues in the story of Eisenhower administration’s use of jazz as propaganda.

In a 1955 Music Journal article titled “Are the Communists Right in Calling Us Cultural Barbarians?” Representative Frank Thompson, Jr. (D-NJ), a strong advocate for the use of the arts to promote state interests, argued that “making Washington the cultural center of the world would be one of the very best and most effective ways to answer Soviet lies and defeat their heavily financed effort to support the spread of communism.” (12) Thompson, in drawing a connection between the state’s role in domestic cultural activities and its international image, reasoned:

if we have no respect for our own best cultural efforts, if we show

no concern as a people and as a nation for our own contemporary

culture and our living artists, then the peoples of other countries

are hardly to blame if they ignore and are indifferent to the

cultural contributions which we have to give the world. We have

only ourselves to blame, for they take their cue from our own

Federal Government. In this situation, the communist parties in

various countries and the USSR find it extremely easy to spread

their lies that we are gum-chewing, insensitive, materialistic

barbarians. (13)

For Thompson, official state recognition and federal monetary support of the arts would demonstrate how much value citizens placed on American cultural achievement. The state, he averred, had an obligation to promote national culture to serve its international interests.

According to Augusta Wilson, Thompson’s biographer, the New Jersey Democrat was “teasingly referred to by many of his colleagues in the House as the ‘culture vulture’ due to his “author[ship] of many bills to advance national interest in the arts.” (14) Thompson, the sponsor of the 1958 act that established the National Cultural Center (later designated the John E Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), had a strong interest in music. As a youth, he had booked and played in dance bands. (15) Shortly after Thompson entered Congress in 1955, Willis Conover, the emcee of Music, U.S.A., a radio program broadcast across the globe by USIA transmitters that reached an estimated thirty million people in eighty countries during its first year on the air, asked the ‘culture vulture’ to explain jazz on his radio program. Thompson used this occasion to reaffirm his commitment to encourage state sponsorship of artistic achievement in order to enhance America’s international image. (16)

The Voice of America, created in 1942 to counter adverse foreign propaganda, was incorporated into the USIA in 1953. (17) David Sarnoff, a remarkable American success story, planted the seed that germinated into the Voice of America. Sarnoff immigrated to the United States from Russia at the age of nine and emerged from Brooklyn tenements to become president of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in 1920. Under his guidance, RCA organized America’s first successful commercial radio network, the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). (18) Throughout the Second World War, Sarnoff served in the United States Army as General Eisenhower’s special assistant on communications. (19) While on active duty in Europe, Sarnoff had been troubled “by the misuse of science and technology to propagate antidemocratic movements like fascism or communism.” (20) Such concern shaped his support for the creation of the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe.

During Eisenhower’s presidential campaign in 1952, the Republican presidential nominee asked Sarnoff for a confidential evaluation of the Cold War. Sarnoff responded with a thirty-five-page memorandum that presented a strategy of “psychological peacefare.” In it, he argued that the Cold War was a political-psychological struggle, rather than simply a military one. In advising Eisenhower on the need for a psychological counteroffensive against the Soviets, Sarnoff called for the United States to place greater emphasis in the propaganda war against the Soviet Union and its allies. Favorable response to Sarnoff’s memorandum in both the press and Congress helped Eisenhower gain public support for his cultural diplomacy programs. (21)

Following Eisenhower’s victory, Sarnoff became one of numerous corporate executives who advised the president on foreign policy. According to one of Sarnoff’s biographers, “no think tank expert of the postwar era devoted more time and energy [to the] strategy of worldwide Soviet containment” than Sarnoff. (22) In 1955, Eisenhower again asked Sarnoff to offer his assessment of the Cold War. Sarnoff submitted his ‘Program for a Political Offensive Against Communism’ memorandum to the president, a document that has been described as “one of the highlights of the historic debate on foreign policy” of the Eisenhower administration. After warning of the vast Soviet effort designed “to brainwash the non-Soviet world,” Sarnoff emphasized the need to beat the communists at their own game of propaganda. He wrote:

The Communists expertly exploit all our internal tensions,

injustices, and discontents. Yet within the Soviet empire the

tensions are incomparably greater, the injustices and discontents

more vast. Our opportunity, which we have failed to use so far, is

to exploit these in order to undermine the Kremlin, exacerbate its

domestic problems, weaken its sense of destiny. (23)

Stressing the global aspect of the communist challenge, Sarnoff warned that “Red agents” in nearby Central America were “as much ‘the enemy’ as the Kremlin itself.” The only way to defeat world communism and prevent a “Hot War,” he argued, was to win the Cold War. To achieve that goal, Sarnoff advocated greater congressional funding for the USIA and its Voice of America programming. (24)

Thompson agreed with Sarnoff’s perspective on the Cold War and what the United States government should do to win it. In his aforementioned Music Journal article, the ‘culture vulture’ echoed the thoughts of his friend, New York Republican Jacob K. Javits, who argued that “if we do not want to fight the Russians with the atom bomb, then we have got to defeat their effort with two other weapons, economic and cultural.” (25) Javits, like Eisenhower, Thompson, and Sarnoff, was a military veteran who saw culture as a means to fight communism. Like Thompson, Javits was an important advocate for the creation of the National Council on the Arts and the Humanities in the 1960s. His experiences in England during World War II served as his “prime inspiration” to work for a government-sponsored national arts organization. As Javits recalled:

Even while the bombs were falling, an organization called the

Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA) was

sending theatrical troupes and musicians to aircraft and other

defense factories all around the country to entertain the workers.

CEMA, which later became the British Arts Council, was funded by

the British Govermnent, and it made a very significant contribution

to British morale during the war. (26)

As early as 1949, Javits introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would have established national theatre, opera, and ballet companies. “Most of my colleagues simply ignored the suggestion–or laughed at it. To most members of the House, it was another ‘artsy’ New York idea,” Javits later complained. (27)

While Javits failed to make any headway with his proposal, President Eisenhower, in his 1955 State of the Union address, promised to “continue to ferret out and destroy Communist subversion” at home and abroad. (28) According to Eisenhower, the “strength of our country requires more than mere maintenance of military strength and success in foreign affairs; these vital matters are in turn dependent upon concerted and vigorous action in a number of supporting programs.” (29) He agreed with Thompson and Javits that state endorsement of cultural accomplishments served America’s national interests. “In the advancement of the various activities which will make our civilization endure and flourish, the Federal Government should do more to give official recognition to the importance of the arts and other cultural activities,” he declared. (30) Eisenhower then recommended the establishment of a Federal Advisory Commission on the Arts “to advise the Federal Government on ways to encourage artistic endeavor and appreciation.” (31)

The Federal Advisory Commission on the Arts was placed under the jurisdiction of the newly created Department of Health, Education and Welfare, whose first secretary, Oveta Culp Hobby, believed that “encouragement of the arts is a demonstration to itself and to others of a nation’s belief in its spiritual resources and creative destiny.” In a letter to Congress, Hobby, the former executive vice president of the Houston Post who had directed the U.S. Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and its successor, the Women’s Army Corps, during the Second World War, told the House and the Senate that “throughout the epochs of history, civilization has been importantly exemplified by masterworks of art and architecture, music and dance, drama and literature.” For Hobby, cultural accomplishments represented “one of the enduring criteria by which history appraises any nation.” In the midst of the global communist threat, she argued that American culture should be promoted by the state as a symbol of the nation’s optimism and vivacity. Hobby regretted that the federal government had “not lent its encouragement and prestige to the arts to the extent that is desirable.” (32) Future generations, she insisted, would regard American artistic achievement as proof of America’s greatness. Like Thompson and Javits, Hobby equated state support of cultural production with artistic merit and status. Government endorsement of the arts would raise the prestige of America both at home and abroad.

To counteract communist anti-American propaganda, the Eisenhower administration made jazz a key component of its cultural foreign policy agenda. Later, modern dance, gospel music, and rhythm and blues were also featured on State Department-sponsored tours. (33) Trumpeter, bandleader, and composer Dizzy Gillespie blazed the trail. By the mid-1950s, Gillespie had become a jazz legend known for his innovative and unorthodox trumpet playing and his wacky on-stage frolicking. After learning to play the trumpet as a child in Philadelphia, Gillespie had worked with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Cab Calloway, Benny Carter, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Lionel Hampton, Coleman Hawkins, Earl Hines, Charlie Parker, and Ben Webster. His eclectic style and propensity for experimentation had made him one of the originators of bebop, a type of jazz expression characterized by harmonic complexity, convoluted melodic lines, and frequent shifting of rhythmic accent. (34) In early 1945, Gillespie organized his first big band, but it lasted less than a year due to financial difficulties. Gillespie kept his second big band together for four years (1946-50), until financial pressures forced him to dissolve that group. Early in 1956, after several years of leading small groups, Gillespie eagerly formed another big band expressly to tour the world on a government-sponsored cultural mission. (35)

The story of Gillespie becoming a jazz ambassador begins with Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., the flamboyant Baptist minister and civil-rights activist from Harlem, New York, who served eleven consecutive terms in the United States House of Representatives (1945-71). (36) In his autobiography, Gillespie recalled that the idea to send jazz musicians abroad on State Department-sponsored cultural missions originated with Powell, who surprised him with a phone call one evening while Gillespie was playing in the nation’s capitol. (37) Powell told Gillespie to meet him in the House Office Building because he had something to tell him. Gillespie arrived to see Powell tell the assembled reporters that he was proposing that Eisenhower send Gillespie, “a great contributor to our music,” on a cultural mission. (38)

Fortunately for Gillespie, Powell’s racial pride meshed with the Eisenhower administration’s cultural foreign policy agenda. “The idea was simple,” writes Gillespie biographer Alyn Shipton, “by actively promoting one of America’s most visual and internationally popular assets, jazz, through a budget underwritten by the State Department, a positive image of the United States would be conveyed to audiences across the globe.” (39) Yet, as Shipton points out, “the image conveyed by a multiracial big band under a black leader was substantially more positive than the reality in many parts of the United States.” (40) Gillespie’s band, like others that participated in State Department-sponsored tours, was interracial by design. “We had a complete ‘American assortment’ of blacks, whites, males, females, Jews, and Gentiles in the band,” Gillespie wrote in his autobiography. Knowing that the bands were intentionally “all ‘mixed’ to show the ‘democratic’ spirit,” Gillespie saw to it that his personnel included a suitably representative assortment of musicians to convey the kind of positive image of the United States that the State Department desired. (41)

Just before launching his tour, Gillespie performed in Europe with Jazz at the Philharmonic, a series of concerts organized by Norman Granz, a film director at MGM Studios, that did much to enhance jazz’s national and international prestige. (42) When the State Department asked Gillespie to return to Washington to be briefed before embarking on his cultural mission, the bandleader refused, telling his wife, “I’ve got three hundred years of briefing. I know what they’ve done to us, and I’m not going to make any excuses. If they ask me any questions, I’m gonna answer them as honestly as I can.” Gillespie insisted that he “wasn’t going over to apologize for the racist policies of America,” but he “was very honored to have been chosen as the first jazz musician to represent the United States on a cultural mission.” He also was pleased with the financial arrangement. “I liked the idea of a big band that wouldn’t cost me any money,” he remembered. “We didn’t have to lay out any money to support it and didn’t have to worry about jobs.” (43)

According to Von Eschen, the State Department “developed a clear strategy that acknowledged that discrimination existed but hastened to add that racism was a fast-disappearing aberration, capable of being overcome by a talented and motivated individual.” (44) Gifted and gregarious African-American celebrities like Gillespie were perfect choices as goodwill ambassadors. African-American jazz musicians playing in and leading interracial big bands displayed an optimism that dark-skinned people could succeed in the United States. Gillespie’s recollections of his tours are in accord with official strategy. The “official” presentation of racism being eliminated in the United States was much more effective overseas coming from African-American celebrities rather than State Department officials. In describing his presentation of the racial situation in the United States, Gillespie wrote:

People asked us a lot of questions about racism in the United

States. But they could see it wasn’t as intense because we had

white boys and I was the leader of the band. That was strange to

them because they’d heard about blacks being lynched and burned,

and here I come with half whites and blacks and a girl playing in

the band. And everybody seemed to be getting along fine. So I

didn’t try to hide anything I said, “Yeah, there it is. We have our

problems but we’re still working on it. I’m the leader of this

band, and those white guys are working for me. That’s a helluva

thing. A hundred years ago, our ancestors were slaves, and today

we’re scuffling with this problem, but I’m sure it’s gonna be

straightened out some day. I probably won’t see it, completely, the

eradication of racial prejudice in the United States, but it will

be eliminated. (45)

Gillespie’s band inaugurated the jazz ambassador program by visiting Europe, South Asia, and the Middle East in 1956. In Europe, West Germany had recently joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which provided security for Western European countries against the threat of Soviet expansion. In Asia, where the Eisenhower administration was deeply concerned about the spread of communism, especially in Indochina, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) had recently been established as another part of America’s policy of forming regional multilateral alliances to contain communism. And in the Middle East, the Baghdad Pact, a military alliance aimed at aligning Middle Eastern countries with Western interests, had been recently formed with American and British assistance.46 Before heading to Latin America for the second leg of the tour in August 1956, Gillespie and his band returned home and played at a White House Correspondents Dinner, during which President Eisenhower presented band members with plaques.47 The band then recorded Gillespie’s World Statesman, produced by Granz, who built on the foundation of Jazz at the Philharmonic to promote Gillespie’s career. (48)

Undoubtedly, the State Department-sponsored tour was extremely important to Gillespie’s professional development. During the tour, Gillespie “found the purpose that was to guide him through over three more decades of professional music at a time when his innovative contribution to jazz was largely over.” (49) As a jazz ambassador, Gillespie “discovered that the combination of his immediately identifiable image, ‘dizzy’ behavior, clowning, upswept trumpet, sometimes bizarre clothes, sense of social justice, and natural ability to be himself in front of any crowd, together with the power of his music, made him the ideal ambassador, not just for the U.S. State Department, but for jazz itself.” (50) And to the benefit of the music, Gillespie now “realized the wisdom of encouraging younger players and began another trend that was to become a significant element of his ‘jazz ambassador’ role–singling out and fostering the talents of up-and-coming trumpeters.” (51) He urged fellow jazz musicians to proselytize, teach, and encourage young performers by sharing their musical knowledge.

The success of the State Department-sponsored tour built Gillespie’s confidence as a bandleader and kept him in the public eye as a major jazz performer on a global stage. Gillespie had been a celebrity since becoming the focus of prestigious magazine stories in the 1940s. The tour, combined with Gillespie’s recording contract with Granz and recurrent performances with Jazz at the Philharmonic, moved him “much more firmly into the spotlight than ever before.” (52) Press articles now highlighted Gillespie’s ambassadorial position and praised his music’s patriotic service. An Afro-American editorial cheered that jazz “had at last been publicly acknowledged as the principle asset of American foreign policy” thanks to the efforts of Powell and Gillespie. The editor of this leading African-American newspaper believed that it was better to send American jazz abroad rather than American classical music because the latter did not appeal to young people and was not representative of “the mood and tempo of our times.” (53) The music magazine Down Beat urged readers to write the United States Information Service to voice their approval of the State Department’s sponsorship of jazz. “Dizzy has served his country well, and the good will he and his band built, the musical education they offered, and the lesson in democracy they gave deserves bows.” Americans, the magazine hoped, were beginning to realize “that jazz is one of our most marketable export commodities and one which is enhancing our reputation around the world.” The possibility of successful utilization by the state of an art form “uniquely expressive of our way of living” had been shown. Jazz enthusiasts were now encouraged to support the use of jazz “as an overseas voice.” (54)

Gillespie took advantage of the prestige he had gained through the State Department-sponsored tour to speak out publicly and honestly about the status of jazz in the United States in the late 1950s. In a June 1957 Esquire article titled “Jazz Is Too Good For Americans,” Gillespie called upon the state to legitimize jazz by incorporating it into public school curriculums and having the federal government establish an endowment for a national jazz archive. Gillespie boasted to readers, “Last year my band grossed nearly a quarter of a million dollars and played in person to more than 900,000 people, not counting those who were beamed in to our radio and TV appearances.” By the typical measures of artistic success–making a living while enjoying an opportunity for self-expression -Gillespie should have been content. But he was not satisfied, given that Americans had never truly accepted jazz as a serious art form. Gillespie was annoyed that most Americans still considered jazz “lowbrow music.” He complained, “They believe, as John Philip Sousa said, that ‘People hear jazz through their feet, not their brains.’ To them, jazz is music for kids and dope addicts. Music to get high to. Music to take a fling to. Music to rub bodies to. Not ‘serious’ music. Not concert-hall material. Not music to listen to. Not music to study.” (55)

Gillespie and most of his fellow jazz musicians had been unnerved by this attitude throughout their careers. After his State Department-sponsored tour, Gillespie became increasingly concerned with this dilemma. He returned home convinced that people in other countries had a “healthier attitude” toward jazz than Americans. “They don’t make a moral issue out of it, as we sometimes do. It’s of no moment to them that jazz was first played in the whore houses of New Orleans, that it was heard in prohibition speak-easies.” Foreign audiences, according to Gillespie, did not “make a racial issue out of jazz.” There was “no significant amount of anti-Negro prejudice in their countries for them to hold out against this music.” Ignoring the possibility that jazz could gain popularity abroad precisely because it was perceived to be race music, Gillespie believed that foreign audiences were attracted to jazz “for its musical message, not its sociological implications.” (56)

While thrilled that audiences overseas were highly enthusiastic, Gillespie lamented the fact that there had been a steadily growing exodus of American jazz musicians in the 1950s and considered the emigration of these performers to be the most significant occurrence in post-World War II era jazz. (57) He blamed the American music industry for the declining status of jazz in the United States. “Remember all those great bands that had their own regular programs back in the late Thirties and early Forties?” he asked. Now, the numerous options for listening to jazz on commercial radio were gone. He had thought jazz was going to become “the real folk music of America.” That hope was dashed as live venues for jazz performers disappeared. “Up until the mid-Forties,” Gillespie pointed out, “fifty hotels in New York were presenting live music. Today there are fourteen.” And what about the nation’s capitol which gave the world jazz, the city that Congressman Thompson wanted to make the world’s cultural center in order to defeat communism? In mid-1957 Washington D.C., not a single club showcased “name jazz musicians.” Gillespie thought it “tragic” that “a surprising number of seasoned musicians” could no longer find work in the United States. (58)

Gillespie proposed several solutions to reverse the sorry condition of American jazz. Foremost, he wanted jazz to be taught to the nation’s schoolchildren. “From their very first Music Appreciation class,” wrote Gillespie, “let the children be made aware that no class distinction should exist between jazz and the classics. Let them be told that jazz is, in effect, free speech in music, that it’s America’s music.” Gillespie then informed his readers that Thompson sought to “give jazz the veneration it deserves” by exploring the prospect of creating “a National Jazz Collection, possibly as part of the Library of Congress.” Gillespie hoped that the collection “would become an invaluable source for musicologists, folklorists, semanticists, and sociologists.” (59) He then asked readers to send him postcards with words of encouragement for the project, care of the magazine, which he would forward to Thompson. With the aid of such measures, Gillespie hoped that “the American public would be exposed to greater amounts of jazz” which would help jazz achieve the same cultural status at home that it had gained abroad. (60)

The State Department-sponsored tour not only served Gillespie well in his crusade to define jazz as serious music, it also enlivened his personal creativity, which broadened both jazz’s audience and technique. By the late 1940s, Gillespie had “incorporated Afro-Cuban music into jazz, creating a new genre from the combination.” Gillespie’s hiring of Cuban percussionist Luciano Gonzales (Chano Pozo) proved to be one of the most significant decisions ever made in the history of jazz, as the two effectively collaborated while experimenting with a mixture of bebop and Afro-Cuban rhythms. According to trumpeter Mario Bauzfi, one of the musicians who introduced Gillespie to Cuban music, “It was a good marriage of two cultures. That was the beginning of Afro-Cuban jazz.” (61)

Following his experimentation of fusing Afro-Cuban music with jazz, Gillespie toured South America under the auspices of the State Department. In Brazil, he encountered the samba and bossa nova which he helped to popularize in the United States and Europe. “Without the sophisticated arrangements and the conjunction of Latin rhythms and jazz harmonies” that Gillespie produced, “both jazz and Latin music would be radically different today.” (62) Undoubtedly, his “wedding of American jazz to Cuban, and later, African, and South American rhythms” influenced the direction of world music. (63) As Gillespie later admitted, the South America tour “really consolidated” his “position as a kind of ‘chief’ preeminent in blending music of the Americas.” (64)

The State Department-sponsored tour, combined with Gillespie’s tireless promotion of jazz, contributed to the internationalization of that art form, which is now more than ever created and performed on the global stage. (65) Gillespie eventually broadened his role from articulate spokesman for the uniqueness of American music to promoter of a more allencompassing definition of jazz. Thanks to internationalists like Gillespie, jazz now exists in the “rich global context” of “transnational flow.” (66) As jazz audiences and musicians increasingly “open themselves up to a broad and deep musical cornucopia,” it is important to remember that jazz has historically been a syncretic art. (67) Gillespie, whose final musical statement was his United Nations Orchestra, “with its pathbreaking fusion of musical styles from North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean,” notably continued this tradition of musical syncretism. (68)

With the onset of the Cold War, American jazz also experienced a political syncretism, as America’s fight against communism and African Americans’ fight to make their music respectable coalesced into an agenda that offered jazz a world stage. While touring for the State Department, Gillespie created “a program that cruised gently through the history of jazz before arriving at the band’s regular arrangements.” (69) Marshall Stearns, the founder of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University who also wrote the liner notes for Gillespie’s World Statesman recording, accompanied Gillespie’s band and lectured on the history of jazz. He shared Thompson and Gillespie’s enthusiasm for the formal institutionalized study of jazz. In a 1956 Saturday Review article titled “Is Jazz Good Propaganda?” which Thompson entered into the Congressional Record, Stearns, of course, answered his question in the affirmative. While touring with Gillespie, he encountered people who knew that Americans had “many bathtubs, skyscrapers, and automobiles,” but they had “real doubts” about American culture. According to Stearns, jazz was good propaganda because its musicians were “true examples” that America had made “a new and impressive contribution to culture.” And jazz was an art born in America that escaped being judged by Europe’s “high standards.” Jazz musicians, Sterns asserted, could “communicate more of the sincerity, joy, and vigor of the American way of life” than other American art forms that had been “inspired by Europe.” (70)

A few months after the publication of his article in Esquire, Gillespie became one of the tutors at a newly formed annual jazz summer school in Lenox, Massachusetts. The school used the well-regarded facilities of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. (71) In her study of the State Department-sponsored jazz tours, Von Eschen points out that Gillespie was once “a rebel who boldly challenged white America’s appropriation of black music by creating a new style of music that couldn’t, the musicians hoped, be easily copied.” (72) Yet, soon after his State Department-sponsored tour, the formerly rebellious Gillespie began tutoring white musicians at one of the nation’s preeminent training grounds for composers, conductors, instrumentalists, and vocalists. According to scholar and jazz musician Jerome Harris, in the “prenatal milieu” of racially segregated nineteenth-century America, black jazz musicians consciously recognized and promoted “the political and spiritual aspects of culture” that affirmed “human sensibility in the face of a society that denied the existence of such qualities in blacks.” Jazz programs such as that at Tanglewood infused conventional respectability into an art form that “has gradually moved from being a vernacular, orally transmitted, segregated-culture music toward more codification, written documentation, and majority-culture acceptance.” This, Harris notes, increased “the number and influence of conservatory and college-level jazz programs” both in the United States and abroad. (73) The State Department’s sponsorship of jazz tours overseas that presented black achievement during the Cold War can thus be viewed as another aspect of this maturation of jazz from lowbrow to highbrow art form. In essence, the cultural politics of the Cold War aided jazz’s transition from the music of an oppressed minority into a respected component of national culture.

Activists and scholars nonetheless have been highly critical of the United States government’s use of jazz as propaganda abroad at a time when African Americans were denied their civil rights and the music received little federal institutional support at home. (74) In Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music (1970), Frank Kofsky, a professor of history at California State University at Sacramento, complained that jazz was “eminently serviceable” for the United States overseas, but its future at home looked bleak. The nation’s “cultural-intellectual establishment” considered jazz “the unwanted stepchild of the arts.” Jazz was broadcast over the airwaves of Voice of America and heard around the world on State Department-sponsored tours, but jazz musicians did not receive foundation grants, visiting professorships, or Pulitzer Prizes. (75) Kofsky analyzed American university curriculums in order to show how little value “the corporate elite,” whom he considered “the pinnacle of the Establishment,” placed on jazz domestically. He contrasted this with the high value they placed on employing the art form as a cultural weapon internationally. Kofsky was angered that universities were not offering courses in jazz. Furthermore, he pointed out that “Establishment ‘intellectual’ magazines” devoted more space to European culture than to jazz. Kofsky believed this lack of support stemmed from the music’s African-American origin. “Thoroughly ingrained [feelings of] white intellectual supremacy and European ethnocentrism [made it] impossible for many whites, even ‘intellectuals,’ to conceive of a Negro art as equal in aesthetic value to a white one,” he complained. Echoing Gillespie’s comments in his Esquire piece, Kofsky declared “what is absolutely too threatening for most of us to bear is the notion that American Negro artists can produce a music which rivals European music in its complexity and demands of the listener’s intellect.” (76)

Afro-American studies and music professor Ronald Radano shares some of Kofsky’s grievances. Yet, while he laments the artistic and political straitjackets that came with jazz’s respectability, Radano recognizes that “institutional efforts to reformulate jazz according to classicist perceptions helped to reinforce cold-war conceptions of a classless and raceless society.” Moreover, the “deifying” of American jazz’s “most notable (and often white) artists and the canonization of their most memorable performances furthered the destabilization of jazz as a form of protest.” The art form increasingly appears “as an historical and depoliticized abstraction, a collection of timeless masterpieces.” (77) Indeed, in June 1956, Good Housekeeping magazine appreciatively classified jazz as “respectable” art. “In the milieu of the home, the concert hall, and the college campus,” jazz “assumed a new order” and became “mainstream.” (78)

While the State Department was pleased that jazz served the interests of American foreign policy as it “flourished as a outlet for rebellious youth” behind the Iron Curtain, the federal government could not be expected to support any type of protest music at home. (79) Without disregarding Radano’s insights, it is imperative to remember that jazz celebrities, politicians, and government officials collectively sought the music’s respectability during the Cold War. At the end of his 1956 State Department-sponsored tour, Gillespie wired the White House to convince President Eisenhower that jazz was “American folk music that communicates with all peoples regardless of language or social barriers.” He urged the president to “continue exploiting this valuable form of expression of which we are so proud.” (80) As government officials came to appreciate jazz as an instrument of cultural diplomacy, Eisenhower and his successors followed Gillespie’s advice. The State Department would continue to send American jazz musicians overseas through the Vietnam War era.

Eisenhower believed in the potential of cultural diplomacy. As historian Kenneth Osgood notes, “a battle-hardened soldier and fiscally conservative politician” might be expected to have opposed spending taxpayers’ dollars on cultural programs while dismissing the arguments of USIA officials that “cultural leadership was a prerequisite of world leadership.” (81) But this was not the case. Eisenhower was convinced that “this is the cheapest money we can spend in the whole area of national security.” (82) He believed that cultural international relations programs paid greater dividends than Congress’s vast military expenditures. Yet, despite encouragement from politicians like Thompson and Javits, Eisenhower repeatedly complained about the lack of congressional support for cultural international relations programs. The president was often frustrated by his own inability to convince Congress of the importance of culture as a weapon in the Cold War. Congress approved excessive spending on weaponry that became obsolete, while at the same time chopping the pittance that the Eisenhower administration sought to carry out its cultural international relations programs. Indeed, at the end of Eisenhower’s presidency a presidential commission found that “informational activities broadly defined constitute slightly more that one percent of the approximate total of $50 billion spent annually for national security.” (83)

Javits believed that congressional opposition to government support of the arts “was a holdover from the days when theatre, music, and dance, other than folk, were regarded as effete activities that had nothing to do with the more vital and virile concerns of the population. (84) Slowly he noticed that, “Congress was becoming more enlightened.” (85) In 1958, Congress donated federal land near the Potomac River for a National Cultural Center. No federal funds were authorized to build the center; the money came from private sources. (86) This became the site of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the construction of which represented a victory for Javits, Thompson, and others who sought to establish “the cultural center of the world” in Washington, D.C. (87)

In Order of Battle (1964), Javits clearly stated his reasons for encouraging the United States government’s postwar cultural programs. “I know that ‘the war for the minds of men’ is a phrase that has so often been pressed into service that it risks becoming, unjustly, a clich,,” wrote the senator. “Yet it aptly describes the fundamental aspect of the contests being waged across the face of the earth,” one of which was “between totalitarian and democratic ways of life.” In addition to military and economic victory, Javits believed that “meaningful conquests are also those won by the legions of the mind and spirit.” He expressed dismay at the mediocre efforts of the United States government to present its message to the world. “Knowing full well that with military and economic means information is the third of the trilogy of indispensable instruments for the triumph of freedom,” he lamented, “we have done least well in this field.” (88) Nevertheless, the federal government sponsored many cultural missions overseas, and racially integrated jazz bands were used, “to prove to the rest of the world that we are sincerely concerned with the ultimate realities of truth and beauty and that we are by no means a nation of mere ‘cultural barbarians.'” (89)

In sum, the African-American politician Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., suggested making Dizzy Gillespie a goodwill ambassador in order to advance the respectability of his race. The Eisenhower administration responded positively to Powell’s recommendation by organizing jazz tours to enhance America’s image and prestige overseas. Communications mogul David Sarnoff and politicians like Frank Thompson, Jr., and Jacob K. Javits supported the use of American arts to fight communism. Jazz ambassadors and jazz enthusiasts used this struggle to improve the stature of the music and its originators. As the agendas of these various actors coalesced, jazz claimed an exalted role in the cultural politics of the Cold War.


(1) Frank Thompson, Jr., “Are the Communists Right in Calling Us Cultural Barbarians?” Music Journal 13, no. 6 (July-August 1955):5, 20.

(2) For information on the Soviet Union’s cultural offensive during the Cold War era, see Frederick Charles Barghoorn, Soviet Foreign Propaganda (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1964); Martin Ebon, The Soviet Propaganda Machine (New York: McGraw Hill, 1987).

(3) For information on the USIA and its precursor, the Office of War Information, see Leo Bogart, Cool Words, Cold War.” A New Look at USIA’s Premises for Propaganda, rev. ed. (Washington, D.C.: American University Press, 1995); Wilson P. Dizard, Jr., Inventing Diplomacy: The Story of the U.S. Information Agency (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2004); Robert E. Elder, The Information Machine: The United States Information Agency and American Foreign Policy (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1968); John W. Henderson, The United States Information Agency (New York: Praeger, 1969); Ronald I. Rubin, The Objectives of the US. Information Agency (New York: Praeger, 1966). TASS (Telegrafnoe Agentstvo Sovetskogo Soyuza), the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union, was established in July 1925 as the official news agency of the Soviet government with the goal of centralizing control over the distribution of foreign news. In addition to public news distribution, TASS supplied information bulletins to Soviet leaders. See Mark W. Hopkins, Mass Media in the Soviet Union (New York: Pegasus Publishing, 1970).

(4) Kenneth Osgood, Total Cold War.” Eisenhower’s Secret Propaganda Battle at Home and Abroad (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2006), 214.

(5) The Eisenhower administration’s global endeavor extended well beyond the actions of the USIA. Osgood’s Total Cold War offers an excellent survey of the psychological warfare programs developed during the Eisenhower administration. Placing U.S. propaganda campaigns in the context of an international arena transformed by the communications revolution and the rise of mass politics, Osgood examines cultural exchange programs and campaigns such as Atoms for Peace and People-to-People. Shawn J. Parry-Giles also investigates the role that U.S. government-sponsored propaganda played in the early Cold War era. Parry-Giles documents the Cold War shift of emphasis in U.S. national propaganda policy from news dissemination to psychological warfare, arguing that this wartime tool evolved from a relatively decentralized journalistic pardigm into a tightly controlled military one. See Shawn J. Parry-Giles, The Rhetorical Presidency, Propaganda, and the Cold War, 1945-1955 (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002).

(6) In The Reluctant Patron: The United States Government and the Arts, 1943-1965 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983), Gary O. Larson describes the debate over the public role of the arts in the United States. Larson examines the period between the end of the New Deal arts programs and the establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities during the 1960s. Opponents of spending tax dollars to subsidize the arts complained of big government and communist influence in the arts community.

(7) For details on Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, see Richard Kluger, Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America ‘s Struggle for Equality, rev. and exp. ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004); James T. Patterson Brown v. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). For an overview of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, see Harvard Sitkoff, The Struggle for Black Equality, 1945-1980 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981), 41-68.

(8) There are a number of interesting studies that examine American artistic production and cultural diplomacy during and after the Second World War. In 1946, the State Department’s newly formed Office of International Information and Cultural Affairs created a program called “Advancing American Art” to show the world that the United States was not just a nation of appliances, automobiles, and Hollywood films. For an account of this effort, which was soon recalled after being ridiculed in the national media, Congress, and the White House, see Taylor D. Littleton and Maltby Sykes, Advancing American Art: Painting, Politics, and Cultural Confrontation at Mid-century (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1989). In Fall-out Shelters for the Human Spirit.” American Art and the Cold War (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2005), Michael Krenn explains the Cold War era program to send American art abroad, which was supported by many members of the American art world and a handful of government officials. See also Jane de Hart Mathews, “Art and Politics in Cold War America,” American Historical Review 81, no. 4 (October 1976):762-87; Frank A. Ninkovich, The Diplomacy of Ideas: US. Foreign Policy and Cultural Relations, 1938-1950 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981).

(9) See Carol Anderson, Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights’, 1944-1955 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003); Thomas Borstelmann, The Cold War and the Color Line: American Race Relations in the Global Arena (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001); Mary L. Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights’: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton, N J: Princeton University Press, 2000); Kevin K. Gaines, American Africans in Ghana: Black Expatriates and the Civil Rights” Era (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2006); Michael L. Krenn, Black Diplomacy: African Americans and the State Department, 19451969 (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1999); Brenda Gayle Plummer, Rising Wind: Black Americans and US. Foreign Affairs, 1935-1960 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1996); Penny M. Von Eschen, Race Against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937-1957 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997).

(10) Jonathan Rosenberg, How Far the Promised Land?: World Affairs and the American Civil Rights Movement from the First World War to Vietnam (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006). On the precedent of African-American leaders to see the plight of black Americans as interconnected with worldwide anti-colonial efforts, see Gerald Home, Black and Red.” W.E.B. Du Bois and the Afro-American Response to the Cold War, 1944-1963 (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1985). For a broad historical overview, see Robin D. G. Kelley, “‘But a Local Phase of a World Problem’: Black History’s Global Vision, 1883-1950,” Journal of American History 86, no. 3 (December 1999): 1045-77.

(11) Penny M. Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), 255.

(12) Thompson, Jr., “Are the Communists Right in Calling Us Cultural Barbarians?” 5. For details on Thompson’s military service in World War II and the Korean War as well as his political career which ended with his resignation and conviction on bribery and conspiracy charges following the FBI’s celebrated Abscam sting operation, see Augusta E. Wilson, Liberal Leader in the House: Frank Thompson, Jr. (Washington, D.C.: Acropolis Books, 1968); Joseph P Fried, “Frank Thompson, Jr., 70; Career in Congress Ended with Abscam,” New York Times, July 24, 1989, D11. For information on Abscam, see Bennett L. Gershman, “Abscam, the Judiciary, and the Ethics of Entrapment,” Yale Law Journal 91, no. 8 (July 1982): 1565-91 ; Susan J. Tolchin and Martin Tolchin, Glass Houses.” Congressional Ethics and the Politics of Venom (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2001), 49-60; James Q. Wilson, “The Changing FBI–The Road to Abscam,” Public Interest 59 (Spring 1980):3-14.

(13) Thompson, Jr., “Are the Communists Right in Calling Us Cultural Barbarians?” 5. Ralph Cogland, a speechwriter for Thompson, and Thompson’s wife, Evelina, who had studied art at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, influenced Thompson’s decision to choose arts legislation as one of his specialties. See Joan Simpson Burns, The Awkward Embrace.” The Creative Artist and the Institution in America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1975), 340.

(14) Wilson, Liberal Leader in the House, 92-95. Thompson and Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) coauthored the legislation (Public Law 860, 84’h Congress) the made the President’s Emergency Fund permanent. See U.S. House of Representatives, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Appropriations, Supplemental Appropriations Bill, President’s Special International Program, 84th Congress, 2nd Session, Part 2 (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1957), 747.

(15) Burns, The Awkward Embrace, 333.

(16) Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows Up the World, 14. For information on Conover, see Robert McG. Thomas, Jr., “Willis Conover is Dead at 75; Aimed Jazz at the Soviet Bloc,” New York Times, May 19, 1996, A35; Wilson, Liberal Leader in the House, 26-27.

(17) The first Voice of America broadcast originated from New York City in February 1942, just seventy-nine days after the U.S. entered the Second World War. Formed to present a view of U.S. culture and report on U.S. policy to foreign listeners in response to Nazi propaganda, the U.S. international radio broadcast service that became known as the Voice of America was made a branch of the USIA. For information on the Voice of America, see David F. Krugler, The Voice of America and the Domestic Propaganda Battles, 1945-1953 (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2000); Robert William Pirsein, The Voice of America: An History of the International Broadcasting Activities of the United States Government, 1940-1962 (New York: Arno Press, 1979); Gary D. Rawnsley, Radio Diplomacy and Propaganda: The BBC and VOA in International Politics, 1956-1964 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996); Holly Cowan Schulman, The Voice of America: Propaganda and Democracy, 1941-1945 (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990).

(18) Kenneth Bilbey, The General: David Sarnoff and the Rise of the Communications Industry (New York: Harper & Row, 1986), 139-70; Eugene Lyons, David Sarnoff: A Biography (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), 145-87.

(19) Lyons, David Sarnoff, 325.

(20) Ibid.

(21) Bilby, The General, 160; Lyons, David Sarnoff, 328.

(22) Bilby, The General, 160.

(23) “General Sarnoff Describes–A New Plan to Defeat Communism,” US. News & World Report, May 27, 1955, 138.

(24) Ibid., 134-43.

(25) Thompson, Jr., “Are the Communists Right in Calling Us Cultural Barbarians?” 5.

(26) Jacob K. Javits with Rafael Steinberg, Javits: The Autobiography of a Public Man (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981), 306.

(27) Ibid.

(28) Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union,” January 6, 1955, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1955; Containing the Public Messages, Speeches, and Statements of the President, January 1 to December 31, 1955 (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1959), 14.

(29) Ibid., 15.

(30) Ibid., 28.

(31) Ibid., 29.

(32) For a copy of Hobby’s letter, see Thompson, Jr., “Are the Communists Right in Calling Us Cultural Barbarians?” 5, 20. For information on Hobby’s service in the military and in government, see Bettie J. Morden, The Women’s Army Corps, 1945-1978 (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1990); A1 Shire, ed., Oveta Culp Hobby (Houston, TX: Western Lithograph, 1997).

(33) In Dance for Export: Cultural Diplomacy and the Cold War (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1998), Naima Prevots explores the American dance companies that received government support for overseas tours. Prevots argues that the Cold War stimulated domestic support for the arts which reinforces the idea that intercultural relations played a significant role in the Cold War. In a chapter on African Americans and intercultural exchange, Pervots adds to studies that claim that progress in domestic civil rights was accelerated from the public relations damage that racist America experienced abroad.

(34) Gillespie is credited with coining the term “bebop.” For information on Gillespie and his important contributions to jazz, see Scott DeVeaux, The Birth of Bebop: A Social and Musical History (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997); Raymond Horricks, Dizzy Gillespie and the Be-bop Revolution (New York: Hippocrene, 1984); Donald L. Maggin, Dizzy: The Life and Times of John Birks Gillespie (New York: Harper Entertainment, 2005); Ken Vail, Dizzy Gillespie: The Bebop Years, 1937-1952 (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2003).

(35) Thomas Owens, “Dizzy Gillespie,” in The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, vol. 1, ed. Barry Kernfeld (New York: Macmillan, 1988), 428-30.

(36) For information on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (1908-72), see Charles V Hamilton, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.: The Political Biography of an American Dilemma (New York: Cooper Square, 2002); Wil Haygood, King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993).

(37) Dizzy Gillespie with A1 Fraser, Dizzy: To Be Or Not To Bop: The Autobiography of Dizzy Gillespie (London: Quartet Books, 1982), 413.

(38) Ibid.

(39) Alyn Shipton, Groovin’ High: The Life of Dizzy Gillespie (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 280.

(40) Ibid.

(41) Gillespie with Fraser, Dizzy, 413-16.

(42) Granz started organizing all-star jam sessions of jazz musicians in Los Angeles in 1940. Upon completing his army service (1941-44), Granz decided to continue these ventures as a sideline to film editing. In July 1944, he organized a concert for victims of anti-Chicano Zoot Suit Riots in Los Angeles at the Philharmonic Auditorium, from whence the name Jazz at the Philharmonic was culled. After a recording of the event was released, Granz set up national package tours of star soloists. Granz, the impresario who “took the jazz idiom out of the smoky, noisy bars and dance halls and tucked it into sumptuous concert halls where it flourished,” began presenting the Jazz at the Philharmonic series to international audiences in the 1950s. Richard Severo, “Norman Granz, Who Took Jazz Out of Smoky Clubs and Put It in Concert Halls, Dies at 83,” New York Times, November 27, 2001, D7. Granz’s Jazz at the Philharmonic became synonymous with concert-hall jam sessions featuring the very best jazz talent. On the importance of Jazz at the Philharmonic in shaping the careers of jazz musicians, see Scott DeVeaux, “The Emergence of the Jazz Concert, 1935-1945,” American Music 7, no. 1 (Spring 1989):6-29.

(43) Gillespie with Fraser, Dizzy, 414. While Gillespie declared that he was “honored to be the first jazz musician to represent the United States on a cultural mission,” the State Department had approved a tour by the renowned trumpet player Louis Armstrong in November 1955. Angry that the Eisenhower administration was slow to enforce school desegregation in the South, Armstrong publicly refused to tour under the auspices of the State Department. See Von Eshen, Satchmo Blows Up the World, 58.

(44) Penny M. Von Eschen, “Who’s the Real Ambassador?: Exploring Cold War Racial Ideology,” in Cold War Constructions: The Political Culture of United States Imperialism, 1945-1966, ed. Christian G. Appy (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2000), 117.

(45) Gillespie with Fraser, Dizzy, 421. The “girl” Gillespie refers to here is the outstanding trombonist and arranger Melba Liston. For information on Liston, see Peter Watrous, “Melba Liston, 73, Trombonist and Prominent Jazz Arranger,” New York Times, April 30, 1999, C21.

(46) On the formation of NATO and West Germany becoming a member of that military alliance, see Lawrence S. Kaplan, The Long Entanglement: NATO’s First Fifty Years (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1999); Wolfram F. Hanrieder, Germany, America, Europe: Forty Years of German Foreign Policy (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989), 4-11, 37-42; Ernest R. May, “The American Commitment to Germany, 1949-1955,” in American Historians and the Atlantic Alliance, ed. Lawrence S. Kaplan (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1991), 52-80. On the formation of SEATO, see Gary R. Hess, “The American Search for Stability in Southeast Asia: The SEATO Structure of Containment,” in The Great Powers in East Asia, 1953-1960, eds. Warren I. Cohen and Akira Iriye (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), 272-95. For information on the Baghdad Pact, see Magnus Persson, Great Britain, the United States, and the Security of the Middle East: The Formation of the Baghdad Pact (Lund, Sweden: Lund University Press, 1998). For the success of Gillespie’s tour of Europe, South Asia, and the Middle East, see Osgood, Total Cold War, 226; Von Eshen, Satchmo Blows Up the World, 33; “Gillespie’s Band a Hit In Beirut,” New York Times, April 29, 1956, 1:124.

(47) Maggin, Dizzy, 283.

(48) Shipton, Groovin ‘High, 266.

(49) Ibid., 283.

(50) Ibid., 283-84.

(51) Ibid., 285.

(52) Ibid., 293.

(53) “Jazz Wins U.S. Friends,” The (Baltimore) Afro-American, July 21, 1956, 4.

(54) Jack Tracy, “The First Chorus,” Down Beat, June 27, 1956, 3.

(55) Dizzy Gillespie, “Jazz Is Too Good For Americans,” Esquire XLVII, no. 5 (June 1957): 55.

(56) Ibid. On the issue of jazz as a multiracial art form since the first decade of its creation, see Terry Teachout, “The Color of Jazz,” in A Terry Teachout Reader (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press), 244-54.

(57) Gillespie, “Jazz Is Too Good For Americans,” 55. For information on the emigration of African-American jazz musicians to other parts of the world, see Heike Raphael-Hernandez, ed., Blackening Europe: The African American Presence (New York: Routledge, 2004); Larry Ross, African-American Jazz Musicians in the Diaspora (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2003); Bill Moody, The Jazz Exiles: American Musicians Abroad (Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press, 1993).

(58) Gillespie, “Jazz Is Too Good For Americans,” 140-41.

(59) Note the contrast here to Gillespie’s earlier praise of foreign audiences for being attracted to jazz “for its musical message, not its sociological implications.”

(60) Gillespie, “Jazz Is Too Good For Americans,” 143.

(61) Peter Watrous, “Dizzy Gillespie, Who Sounded Some of Modern Jazz’s Earliest Notes, Dies at 75,” New York Times, January 7, 1993, D20. On the collaboration between Gillespie, Gonzales, and Bauza, see “Bauza-Gillespie-Latin/Jazz: Difference, Modernity, and the Black Caribbean,” South Atlantic Quarterly 103, no.1 (Winter 2004):81-99.

(62) Ibid.

(63) Bob Laber, “Dizzy Gillespie, An American Original” The Instrumentalist 45, no. 5 December 1990):31.

(64) Gillespie with Fraser, Dizzy, 428-32.

(65) The United States government’s overall Cold War cultural offensive contributed to the internationalization of jazz. A year following Gillespie’s State Department-sponsored tour, Billboard featured a front-page story praising the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and the Armed Forces Radio Network for exposing much of Europe, Asia, and Africa to jazz. The article claimed that in 1956 jazz acquired “legitimacy and respectability” and became the nation’s “most appealing export.” The magazine noted optimistically that the recognition of jazz as “an internationally accepted and admired musical form” was “almost a reality,” and that foreign jazz musicians “more than anytime in the past” were making “meaningful contributions” to jazz. Burt Korall, “Jazz Speaks Many Tongues, Vaults National Barriers,” Billboard, August 19, 1957, 1, 25, 45.

(66) Jerome Harris, “Jazz on the Global Stage,” in The African Diaspora: A Musical Perspective, ed. Ingrid Monson (New York: Garland, 2000), 103.

(67) Ibid., 116.

(68) Shipton, Groovin’ High, 363.

(69) Ibid., 281.

(70) Marshall W. Stearns, “Is Jazz Good Propaganda?” Saturday Review, July 14, 1956, 28-31.

(71) For information on Tanglewood, see James R. Holland, Tanglewood (Barre, MA: Barre Publishers, 1973); Herbert Kupferberg, Tanglewood (New York: McGraw Hill, 1976); Andrew L. Pincus, Tanglewood: The Clash Between Tradition and Change (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998).

(72) Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows Up the World, 1.

(73) Harris, “Jazz on the Global Stage,” in The African Diaspora, ed. Monson, 113-17.

(74) See, for example, Elliot E Bratton, “The Sound of Freedom: Jazz in the Cold War,” Crisis 105, no. 1 (February/March 1998):14-19; Elliot F. Bratton, “In the Interest of Freedom: Jazz in the Cold War” Crisis 105, no. 2 (April/May 1998):37-38.

(75) Frank Kofsky, Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970), 112.

(76) Ibid., 113-15. Kofsky, a professor at California State University, Sacramento, from 1969 until his death in 1997, authored a number of articles, reviews, and other writings about jazz, including several liner notes for saxophone legend John Coltrane’s recordings. He completed two books shortly before his death: Black Music, White Business: Illuminating the History and Political Economy of Jazz (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1998) and John Coltrane and the Jazz Revolution of the 1960s (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1998), an expanded and revised edition of Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music.

(77) Ronald M. Radano, New Musical Abstractions: Anthony Braxton’s Cultural Critique (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 16.

(78) George Marek, “From the Dive to the Dean, Jazz Becomes Respectable,” Good Housekeeping (June 1956): 120-24.

(79) Walter L. Hixson, Parting the Curtain: Propaganda, Culture, and the Cold War, 19451961 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997), 116.

(80) Shipton, Groovin’ High, 284.

(81) Osgood, Total Cold War, 217.

(82) Quoted in Hixson, Parting the Curtain, 227.

(83) Robert T. Holt and Robert W. Van de Velde, Strategic Psychological Operations and American Foreign Policy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960), 45.

(84) Javits with Steinberg, Javits, 307.

(85) Ibid. For information on Javits’ 1953 proposal for the creation of a United States Art Foundation and general information regarding the federal government’s national arts policy, which culminated in the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965, see Donald Hugh Perone, “Searching for a National Policy on the Arts,” Review of Policy Research 21, no. 4 (July 2004):485-504.

(86) Javits with Steinberg, Javits, 308.

(87) Thompson, Jr., “Are the Communists Right in Calling Us Barbarians?” 5.

(88) Jacob K. Javits, Order of Battle.” A Republican’s Call to Reason (New York: Atheneum, 1964), 263-64.

(89) Thompson, Jr., “Are the Communists Right in Calling Us Barbarians?” 5.

DAVID M. CARLETTA is a Ph.D. Candidate in History at the College of Social Science, Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.

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