Louis Armstrong Plays Trumpet at the Egyptian Pyramids; Dizzy Gillespie Charms a Snake in Pakistan

armstrong at the pyramids

Dur­ing the Cold War, the Unit­ed States made the case for the Amer­i­can way of life by send­ing its best ambas­sadors abroad — jazz musi­cians. “Music that was unique to Amer­i­ca and rep­re­sent­ed a fusion of African and African-Amer­i­can cul­tures with oth­er tra­di­tions was a demo­c­ra­t­ic art form that helped oth­ers to under­stand the open-mind­ed and cre­ative sen­si­bil­i­ty of our coun­try,” writes the Jam Ses­sion web site. There, you can see pho­tos of Duke Elling­ton, Dizzy Gille­spie and Dave Brubeck in coun­tries like Syr­ia, Jor­dan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan, Sin­ga­pore, South Korea, and Hong Kong. As part of this cul­tur­al diplo­ma­cy, the great Louis Arm­strong went to Egypt in 1961 where, in this icon­ic pho­to, he played trum­pet for his wife, Lucille, at the foot of the Great Sphinx and the pyra­mids in Giza.

duke snake

A 2008 New York Times arti­cle high­lights oth­er images from these good­will tours — there’s Dizzy Gille­spie charm­ing a snake with his trum­pet in Karachi (1956), Ben­ny Good­man play­ing his clar­inet in the Red Square (1962) and Duke Elling­ton smok­ing a hookah in Iraq (1963). In a pre­vi­ous post, we also have Dave Brubeck talk­ing about his Cold War adven­tures in Poland. Watch here.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Nazis’ 10 Con­trol-Freak Rules for Jazz Per­form­ers: A Strange List from World War II

Louis Arm­strong Plays His­toric Cold War Con­certs in East Berlin & Budapest (1965)

Stan­ley Kubrick’s Jazz Pho­tog­ra­phy and The Film He Almost Made About Jazz Under Nazi Rule

Watch Lam­beth Walk—Nazi Style: The Ear­ly Pro­pa­gan­da Mash Up That Enraged Joseph Goebbels

Jazz ‘Hot’: The Rare 1938 Short Film With Jazz Leg­end Djan­go Rein­hardt

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.