Preposterous Universe

Friday, August 13, 2004
Jazz Ambassadors

The image of the United States in the world has, to be sure, taken a big hit over the last couple of years. Clearly drastic measures are called for. What better way to get people throughout the world to think better of us than to let them listen to some cool jazz? Something along those lines must have been going through the minds of the clever folks at the State Department and Lincoln Center, when they got together to start the Jazz Ambassadors program.

The idea is to assemble a few small groups of talented (and hopefully diplomatic) musicians, and send them on several-week tours of places that don't get much exposure to US culture. I know about it because Michael Raynor, a friend of mine who is Von Freeman's drummer, has just left for a tour with the Chicago Jazz Quartet, a group thrown together for just this purpose. They will be visiting Vietnam, Thailand, the Phillipines, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh before returning to the City of the Broad Shoulders. Perhaps, through the wonder of swinging, improvised music, they can bring peace and prosperity to the far reaches of the earth. Or maybe they will merely entertain and stimulate some audiences of people who think of Rambo when anyone mentions the United States. Which would make the project more than worthwhile.

Meanwhile, I shall go hop on a plane, and when you next hear from me I should be in Geneva, land of international banking, accurate timepieces, and high-energy particle physics. Further reports as events warrant.

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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