DIZZY GILLESPIE (1917 - 1993)
Dizzy Gillespie was a giant in the jazz world—a virtuoso player, composer, arranger, innovator of bebop, and forerunner of Afro-Cuban music. While he received musical training as a child, he taught himself to play trumpet. In 1935 he joined a Philadelphia band where he picked up the “Dizzy” moniker for his onstage antics.
Gillespie made his first recording with the Teddy Hill Band in 1937, “King Porter Stomp.” He joined Cab Calloway’s band in 1939 and began to veer away from the traditional trumpet style that he had picked up from Louis Armstrong, Charlie Shavers, and Roy Eldridge. There he also met trumpeter Mario Bauza who piqued his interest in Afro-Cuban music. By 1940 Gillespie was participating in after-hours sessions with other musicians—Charlie Parker, Kenny Clarke, and Bud Powell — whose experimentation would spark the bop revolution. After leaving Calloway he joined Earl Hines’ band (which included Parker) and wrote “Interlude” which would become “Night in Tunisia.”
The musical direction of Gillespie and Parker would not gain public acceptance for several years. You couldn’t dance to it— anathema for the swing generation. In 1946 Dizzy formed an all-star band that included Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo. In collaboration with Walter Fuller they wrote the fiery “Manteca.”
In 1953 someone fell on Gillespie’s trumpet and bent the bell at a 45-degree angle. He liked playing it that way and had instruments specially made for him. In 1956 he toured the world as leader of a State Department-sponsored big band, and in the late ‘80s he led the United Nations Orchestra until he retired in 1992. Other of his compositions firmly established in the jazz repertoire are “Groovin’ High,” “Birks Works,” “Con Alma,” “Anthropology” with Walter Bishop and Charlie Parker, and “Salt Peanuts”.
— Sandra Burlingame
Courtesy of JazzStandards.com