This is the concert version of Dave & Iola Brubeck's only musical, TheReal Ambassadors. Intended for Broadway, it was performed only once at the 1962 Monterey Jazz Festival. The production starred the enormously popular Louis Armstrong, Carmen McRae and Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, along with the musicians from Brubeck's and Armstrong's bands.
This is the first performance of The Real Ambassadors in over 50 years, and the first theatrical production at the Detroit Jazz Festival! The message is as relevant ...today as it was back then. Based on the musical life of Louis Armstrong, the story tells of cultural exchange artists hired by the US State Department as “goodwill ambassadors” to represent America during the Cold War. Most of the African American jazz musicians knew by personal experience they were not treated as equals in their own country, the birthplace of jazz, but they felt however that the power of music, specifically jazz, could bring about social change and help resolve world tensions. This show was Armstrong's first chance to express his deep feelings about racial issues and civil rights, as it preceded the massive civil rights struggles that eventually changed America.
The jazz score contains rare musical gems with brilliant catchy melodies in the unique Brubeck style with clever and pertinent lyrics by Dave's wife, Iola. Themes of jazz musician's lives and loves intermingling with a growing awareness of their place in the world, driven by a unique Brubeck score, results in a meaningful and entertaining, however seldom heard, musical masterpiece.
Written by Dave and Iola Brubeck
Produced and Directed by Bill Meyer
Augustus Williamson as Louis Armstrong
Michelle McKinney as Carmen McRae
Carl Cafagna as Dave Lambert
Armond Jackson as Jon Hendricks
Meri Slaven as Annie Ross
Bill Meyer, piano
Ibrahim Jones, bass
David Greene, trumpet
Wendell Harrison, clarinet, sax
Ed Gooch, trombone