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The Jazz Ambassadors

How a group of African-American jazz musicians and their racially integrated bands crossed the globe during the Cold War to counter negative propaganda about racism in America.

In 1955, the African-American congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie announced a new Cold War weapon to combat the Soviet Union - America's iconic jazz musicians and their racially integrated bands would cross the globe to counter negative propaganda about racism in American.

Over the next decade, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck would tour the world in service of US Cold War interests. But the unfolding Civil Rights movement back home forced them into a moral bind; how could they promote a tolerant image of America abroad when racial equality remained an unrealised dream?

This is the story of how the state department unwittingly gave the Civil Rights movement a voice on the world stage when it needed one most.

1 hour, 27 minutes

Last on

Sun 10 May 2020 00:05

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:26

    Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington

    Take the "A" Train

  • 00:45

    The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Dave Brubeck

    Calcutta Blues (Remastered)

  • 00:54

    E.T. Mensah

    Ghana Freedom

  • 01:13

    Duke Ellington

    African Flowers

  • 01:25

    Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra, Duke Ellington

    Isfahan (1999 Remastered)


Role Contributor
Director Hugo Berkeley
Producer Mick Csaky
Production Manager Helen Kelsey
Production Company Antelope South Ltd


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