jazz diplomacy

March 30, 2016

The Nationals have expressed interest to MLB about playing the Cuban national team, while the country’s baseball commissioner has openly welcomed the Nationals to play in Havana next spring. [...] Baker feels the baseball team in the nation’s capital would carry extra significance, especially with thawing relations between the two countries.

Dana Gioia, chairperson of the National Endowment of Arts, said, "There's no American alive who has done more extensive and effective cultural diplomacy than Dave Brubeck". He was even chosen to thaw Cold War tensions, being asked to play for a series of summits between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Besides the opportunities to play with and learn from Cuban musicians, Jaffe says that the PHJB plans to share their New Orleans musical history – “People in New Orleans still dance to jazz. We play jazz at our funerals” – with their hosts.

The Carmel Institute of Russian Culture and History, American University, hosted Russian jazz legend Igor Butman at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Washington DC. The event, meant to represent the unifying qualities of cultural cooperation[.]

An economic blockade between the U.S. and Cuba didn't prevent jazz from traveling between the countries. But what if the dialogue could flow freely?Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra wanted to find out. [...] He got six composers to envision, in their own ways, the continuation of a musical conversation that Gillespie and Pozo started. 

Although plenty of Americans figure into the picture, some of the brightest stars come from as far as Trinidad, France and Azerbaijan. The groups cover a wide gamut of subgenres, but what they all have in common is a critical element of jazz swing at their core.

The U.S. and Cuba -- two superpowers in contemporary music -- have been trading (and blending) all along, even during the embargo, each one an equal partner.  Perhaps our governments can use this model to build bridges and renew relationships between our two countries. Let’s call it “jazz diplomacy."