The most famous grumble of discontent remains Armstrong's 1957 rebuke of President Dwight Eisenhower's foot-dragging on school desegregation in Little Rock, Ark. "The way they are treating my people in the South," Armstrong had said, while canceling plans for a State Department-sponsored Soviet tour, "the government can go to hell."
More often than not, though, musicians' rebellions were not publicly captured.
Mr. Jeffrey, who often toured with Thelonious Monk, founded Duke University's jazz program more than 20 years ago. He still lives in North Carolina and remembers touring Europe with Gillespie shortly after runners John Carlos and Tommie Williams raised black-gloved fists in protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.
During one of his sets, drummer Max Roach, who also headlined, wore a black glove to show solidarity. It was an undiplomatic overture that did not sit well with State Department etiquette.
But Jeffrey agreed with Roach's political play. "To be used as a pawn to signify that everything's OK when it's not, kinda leaves one...," Jeffrey says, before trailing off into a memory of segregated facilities and verbal insults he suffered while playing the Deep South in the early 1960s with B.B. King.