First Advisor

Landry, Dana

First Committee Member

Casey, Brian

Second Committee Member

Yamprai, Jittapim

Third Committee Member

Low, Michelle

Document Type


Date Created



During the 1950s and 1960s, amidst the backdrop of the Cold War, the influences of Middle Eastern music on jazz became more pronounced. In a strategic move, the U.S. State Department dispatched jazz musicians to the Middle East to promote the genre. This initiative inadvertently led these ambassadors of jazz to bring back and incorporate Middle Eastern musical elements into their craft. Today, the echoes of the Middle East are prominently heard in jazz, evident in melodic structures, rhythms, instruments, and beyond. Yet, despite its profound impact, the Middle Eastern music influence remains underacknowledged in jazz circles. This research delves into Middle Eastern-influenced jazz from the 1950s to the 1960s, examining works by three distinct groups of jazz musicians: the Jazz Messengers, the Jazz Ambassadors, and a cohort deeply rooted in Middle Eastern traditions—encompassing jazz artists adept at Middle Eastern instruments or those who collaborated with Middle Eastern musicians. Of these groups, the Jazz Messengers had the most limited exposure to Middle Eastern sounds, while the Jazz Ambassadors gained deeper insights through their Middle East tours. However, those with the most profound connection to Middle Eastern music were the jazz artists with extensive training in Middle Eastern music theory and performance or collaborated with Middle Eastern instrumentalists. This study seeks to analyze how these jazz artists, each with their own level of Middle Eastern musical fluency, incorporated and adapted Middle Eastern elements through the dual lenses of jazz and Middle Eastern musical paradigms.

Abstract Format



114 pages

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Copyright is held by the author.