Hungarian musicians recall secret jazz recordings from 1956 (via Palm Beach Post)

In Hungary of the 1950s, jazz music was a dangerous pastime — but music lovers got some clandestine help from the United States government.

Jazz was a tool of U.S. Cold War diplomacy, promoted and broadcast into the East Bloc in an effort to make American culture more appealing to intellectuals and other elites behind the Iron Curtain.

On Thursday evening, the United States celebrated those past efforts with a concert at a nightclub in Budapest that featured the music of Duke Ellington and other artists that it once broadcast into Hungary. The embassy also released a limited edition CD of Hungarian jazz recordings sponsored by a U.S. diplomat shortly before the country’s failed anti-Soviet revolution of 1956. Later that year, the recordings were broadcast back into the country — and around the world — on Voice of America.

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