100 Years of Partnership
Jazz Diplomacy and U.S. Participation in the Cairo Jazz Festival

The iconic picture of Louis Armstrong playing the trumpet at the Pyramids has been the legacy of U.S. Jazz participation in Egypt that has remained with both countries for many years. In current times, jazz has since been localized in Egypt with its own unique fan base.

In November of 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Egypt supported the Cairo Jazz Festival by sponsoring the visit of American musicians who continued the tradition of jazz diplomacy dating back to when the legendary Louis Armstrong visited and performed in Egypt in 1961.

The ICX Jazz Ensemble, made up of instrumentalists from various American universities, and U.S. jazz fusion group AJOYO performed at Cairo Jazz Festival, as well as Dr. Ayman Fanous, an Egyptian-American contemporary free jazz and improvisation artist, alongside world-renowned cellist Frances-Marie Utti.

The members of ICX Jazz Ensemble noted that the enthusiasm of the audience encouraged them to play with more intensity and passion than many other festivals they have experienced around the world.

The pioneer of jazz in Egypt is Yehia Khalil, who formed his own ensemble in 1979. Today, a multitude of music genres have been well-received in Egypt and continue to emerge. The Cairo Jazz Festival was first established over 13 years ago and has successfully found its own fans in the country, and likely will for many more years to come.

Photo: U.S. Embassy in Egypt, U.S. State Department