Jam Session: America’s Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World

March 20 – August 14, 2011

This exceptional collection of photographs and documents drawn from important archives around the country chronicles the tours of American jazz legends as they traveled the globe on behalf of the U.S. State Department. From the mid-1950s through the 1970s, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and others served as cultural diplomats. Millions of people experienced these concerts and thrilled to the many styles and variations of the remarkable American art form called jazz music.

Jam Session features nearly one hundred captivating images of musicians visiting thirty-five countries on four continents. Along with them, a fully functional stage will be built in the gallery, where live jazz will be performed intermittently throughout the run of exhibition. Please check our calendar and/or follow us on Facebook for announcements about the fantastic “jam sessions” happening in Jam Session!

Online Exhibition

The online exhibition for Jam Session tells the stories of the musicians who served as Jazz Ambassadors between the mid-1950s and the late 1970s and shows some of the photographs displayed in the exhibition.  Click here to visit the Online Exhibition. 


NY Times Photo Slideshow

Photo Slideshow

Visit the New York Times website to see a slideshow of photographs from this exhibition with commentary.

Click here to get to the photo slideshow. 


Fowler OutSpoken Conversation with Kenny Burrell, John Edward Hasse, and Quincy Jones: Jazz Diplomacy (2011)

Jazz Salon with Tommy Hawkins (2011)

Jam Session Concert By The Institut (2011)

Press Release

Jam Session 

Exhibition Credits

Jam Session: America’s Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World is guest curated by Curtis Sandberg, Vice President for the Arts at the Meridian International Center, with professor Penny M. Von Eschen, an expert in the history of jazz diplomacy and author of Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War.

This exhibition is organized and circulated by Meridian International Center, Washington, D.C.Its Los Angeles presentation is supported in part by the UCLA Graduate Division; UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture; Friends of Jazz at UCLA; Earl E. Gales, Jr., Jenkins/Gales & Martinez, Inc.; and the Shirley and Ralph Shapiro Director’s Discretionary Fund. Co-sponsors include the Herb Alpert School of Music and the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology. Programming initiatives were generously funded by the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation and the Yvonne Lenart Public Programs Fund.

Special thanks to the following individuals and businesses who made the stage set possible:

Remo D. Belli, CEO/Founder of Remo, Inc.
Keyboard Concepts Inc.
String Season
Bedrock Studios, LA
Eric Gill
Joshua Darlington
Byron Reynolds
Emry Thomas

Media sponsor: KJAZZ 88.1 FM