Veteran jazz pianist Dave Brubeck
was presented with a U.S. State Department award on Tuesday for promoting America overseas. The 87-year-old, best known for his 1959 song Take Five, collected the Ben Franklin Award for public diplomacy from U.S. Secretary Of State Condoleeza Rice in Washington, D.C.
Rice said, "As a little girl I grew up on the sounds of Dave Brubeck because my dad was your biggest fan. Thank you for your patriotism and your leadership in representing America by introducing the language, the sounds and the spirit of jazz to new generations around the world."
Brubeck, who toured Eastern Europe in 1971 for the State Department, played his piece Dziekuje at the ceremony after accepting his award.
He spoke of the role jazz has had in helping bring cultural freedom to people in Eastern Europe in an era when the genre was frowned upon: "Every country has a group of young - or old - people that live in a desire to be free.
"If you got caught (listening to jazz)... you lost your identity cards, you could never get a good job, you could never go to school, to the university, because you loved jazz. Why? Because it's freedom that they wanted to stop and jazz was that voice of freedom and it still is."
(This news article provided by World Entertainment News Network)