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.
"America exporting its contradictions," is how author Penny von Eschen, in "Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War," describes the State Department's strategy of sending integrated jazz bands abroad to counter foreign perceptions of US racism at home.
The ultimate aim, of course, was to best the Soviet Union, which exported cultural ambassadors almost as often as it increased its nuclear stockpiles.
And although it is fair to assume that a bit of music never hurt, how much a musician's charm and soul helped to win the cold war, or the newly rebranded global war on terror, is almost impossible to objectively measure, Professor Pells says.