Early 1960s. The tension between the United States and the Soviet Union is rising. The two countries agree on a cultural exchange program to help ease up the strained relationship.
So a jazz musician is sent from the US to the USSR. In the latter, jazz is frowned upon, seen as a decadent Western influence that is trying to take over the minds of good Soviet citizens. Yet, supposedly under the pressure from students, the Soviet government relents. So who is sent into the heart of the bear to show off American jazz?
Benny Goodman, whose parents were Jewish immigrants from the old Russian empire. Benny Goodman, returning to the land of his forefathers. Benny Goodman, who plays 32 concerts, captivating Soviet audiences, including Nikita Khrushchev. Benny Goodman, hailed by a communist newspaper as a "true poet of the clarinet".
And then, of course, it's time for Benny Goodman to leave. The Khrushchev thaw passes, the USSR enters the Brezhnev stagnation. But the doors are open, and other American musicians make their way over, and show the Soviets that there is something to be admired in that evil, capitalistic world.
Goodman passes away in 1986, five years before the Soviet Union collapse. And sure, we can't claim that he and those concerts had a lot to do with the breakdown of the USSR.
But it can't hurt to say that they played a part.