Jazz war
July 19, 2021

How America's cold-war tour gave birth to jazz in Pakistan


In 1956, the US introduced the Jazz Ambassadors Tour, a showcase that sent American musicians overseas to parts of the world that were perceived to be under threat of Soviet influence. It was believed that jazz performers who were spearheading the civil rights movement would help generate a positive image of the US to newly independent nations. One of the countries the US focused on was Pakistan, so Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Dave Brubeck were among the performers at state-funded gigs during the 1950s and 60s. These concerts wove jazz into Pakistan’s musical fabric and through its traditional instruments, resulting in sounds that remain relatively unheralded yet are still flourishing today, with bands like Jaubi, or previously Badal Roy, Tafo Brothers and Zohaib Hassan Khan, as Guardian points out.