During the Cold War, the U.S. State Department started sending jazz musicians overseas with the tactical aim of using their hot licks to thaw relations with Eastern Bloc countries. Jazz great Dave Brubeck recalls how Louis Armstrong, a.k.a. “Ambassador Satch,” won international hearts and minds with his trumpet. Band member Arvell Shaw saw Armstrong literally disarm Russian guards in East Berlin. Meanwhile, fear of nuclear war with the Soviets infiltrated American popular consciousness resulting in gospel, bluegrass and pop odes to and protests against atomic weapons. In the Sixties, the airwaves were dominated by rock’n‘roll, which pirate radio stations and the Armed Forces Network piped across the Iron Curtain. AFN soldier/deejay Rik De Lisle tells about spinning tunes that helped destabilize the Berlin Wall, and Hungarian diplomat/rock guitarist Andras Simonyi and Russian musician Stas Namin talk about life in the Soviet sphere and the cultural revolution sparked by the Beatles, Traffic and Jimi Hendrix.
This week on American Routes, we’re celebrating the life and music of Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. Schooled in the sounds of his family and New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood, Shorty has been a musician since the age of four. His natural prowess as a trombonist and trumpeter has carried Shorty from his roots in traditional jazz and popular tunes to funk and distinctively new New Orleans music as heard on the recent CD Parking Lot Symphony. We’ll hear a classic concert, where he joins Kermit Ruffins upriver in St. Paul, MN… and then return to New Orleans where Troy takes the stage with his students from the Trombone Shorty Academy, as Andrews mentors the city’s next generation of musicians.
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