653 Chenery Street
in San Francisco's Glen Park neighborhood

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Open to walk-in trade and browsing
Tuesday to Sunday
noon to six


Live Streams every weekend!
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to catch a show in progress!
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But nothing beats being in the room
with the music & the musicians!

Monday, July 25 – 7pm
Author Event/Book Signing
“The Real Ambassadors”
author Keith Hatschek
in conversation with Simon Rowe
on Hatscheck’s new book

Attend in person, or catch the live stream on our YouTube channel and Facebook page. Doors open at 6:30pm. No charge. Books available for purchase.

Keith Hatschek’s new book, The Real Ambassadors: Dave and Iola Brubeck and Louis Armstrong Challenge Segregation (University Press of Mississippi, 2022) delves into the largely untold story of Dave and Iola Brubeck’s partnership with Louis Armstrong to stage a jazz musical fighting for equal rights in the 1950s and 60s.

The heart of the story is the allyship that developed between Satchmo and the Brubecks, and how important taking a stand against racism was to all of them, as well as the rest of the talented cast that premiered the show at the 1962 Monterey Jazz Festival.

 “With well-researched details and clear-eyed passion, Hatschek relates the story of the Brubecks’ creation, of the stars it brought into alignment (Louis Armstrong, Carmen McRae, the vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks and Bavan, and others), and of the social context of the early 1960s, and the timeless relevancy of its message.

“The story of The Real Ambassadors remains one of the most compelling chapters in the annals of music yet has been in danger of fading away; Hatschek’s book pulls it back into the spotlight, righteously explaining its enduring significance.”

— Ashley Kahn, music historian and author of A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album

Dave Brubeck and Louis Armstrong at a rehearsal for the recording of The Real Ambassadors, Columbia Records studio, New York, 1961.

During the Cold War, the US State Department enlisted some of America’s greatest musicians, Louis Armstrong prominently among them, as well as Dave Brubeck, to serve as “jazz ambassadors,” touring the world to trumpet a so-called “free society.”

Honored as celebrities abroad, the jazz ambassadors, who were overwhelmingly African Americans, returned home to racial discrimination and deferred dreams. Dave and Iola Brubeck used this double standard as the central message in writing a musical called The Real Ambassadors, deploying humor and pathos to share perspectives on American values.

On September 23, 1962, the stunning debut of The Real Ambassadors moved a packed arena at the Monterey Jazz Festival to laughter, joy, and tears.

Although critics unanimously hailed the performance, it sadly became a footnote in cast members’ bios. The enormous cost of reassembling the star-studded cast made the creation impossible to stage and tour. However, The Real Ambassadors: Dave and Iola Brubeck and Louis Armstrong Challenge Segregation caps this jazz story by detailing how the show was triumphantly revived in 2013 by the Detroit Jazz Festival and in 2014 by Jazz at Lincoln Center. This reaffirmed the musical’s place as an integral part of America’s jazz history and served as an important reminder of how artists’ voices are a powerful force for social change.

The cast of “The Real Ambassadors” – Monterey Jazz Festival, September 23, 1962



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The Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project

Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.

The BBCLP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit...
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The Independent Musicians Alliance

Gigging musicians! You have nothing to lose but your lack of a collective voice to achieve fair wages for your work!
The IMA can be a conduit for you, if you join in to make it work.


Read more here - Andy Gilbert's Feb 25 article about the IMA from KQED's site

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