jazz diplomacy

The jazz quartet from New York City arrived in Pakistan about two weeks ago for a series of concerts and music classes with local musicians. The trip culminated with a live recording of a “friendship song” with a Pakistani rock band during a concert Tuesday night.

These musicians are a part of the 10 jazz, hip hop and American roots ensembles that have been chosen by The Rhythm Road to travel as cultural ambassadors for the 2011 season. Selected ensembles tour internationally with The Rhythm Road to foster cross-cultural understanding through their music.

April 6, 2011

The festival, featuring nine bands from across the globe, is the maiden inroad of the Indian Centre for Cultural Relations (ICCR) into jazz as a tool of cultural contact spanning Asia, North America and Europe and linking them to jazz lovers here, ICCR director general Suresh Goel told IANS.

Rhythm Road artists represent the new generation of musical ambassadors, reaching beyond concert halls to interact with other musicians and the general public.

Jazz wins hearts and minds. It’s a rhythmic diplomat, reflective and conversant by its nature. That’s the idea behind the Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad, a project produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center and sponsored by grants from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, now embarking on its seventh series of journeys.

Pop quiz: name three jazz artists under the age of 50. Maybe you named popular favorites Wynton and Branford Marsalis, but can you name any of their albums? Does anyone else spring to mind? No?

Just under the wire, this note from Nicholas Charles Bouloukos, a jazz pianist and conductor now working in China, is too interesting not to share while the Hu Jintao visit is still more or less newsworthy. Bouloukos explains how the White House choice of a jazz-centric music program for last week's State Dinner matches developments in China itself.

From the mid-1950s through the 1970s, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman and other jazz greats served as cultural diplomats, touring the globe on behalf of the U.S. State Department... a collection of photographs and documents chronicling these tours will be on display at the Fowler Museum at UCLA from March 20 through Aug. 14.