Jazz Ambassadors revisits time when Cold War diplomacy got hip

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing — and a handy role in a Cold War propaganda campaign. In the late ’50s, U.S. government officials eager to make a case for America’s superiority to Communist regimes found a new vehicle to deliver the message to a global audience. They staged a series of global tours of top jazz musicians to showcase the popular and inclusive art form, promoting the democratic values enshrined in the music while also offsetting the backlash brewing among African Americans fed up with discrimination. Those tours wound down in the ’70s, but a new film next year will revisit their legacy. Presented by New York’s WNET, the 90-minute Jazz Ambassadors will showcase the overseas adventures of jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck and Duke Ellington.