October 21, 2017

Dizzy Gillespie ~ trumpeter, bandleader, composer, and singer

John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie (/ɡˈlɛspi/) was born on October 21, 1917. He was an American jazz trumpeter who did it all: bandleader, composer, and singer. A trumpet virtuoso and improviser, he built on the virtuoso style of Roy Eldridge but added layers of harmonic complexity previously unheard in jazz. His beret, horn-rimmed spectacles, scat singing, bent horn, pouched cheeks and light-hearted personality were essential in popularizing bebop.

all photos from the Internet



Gillespie got his start on the "Golden Strip" in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the 1930s. "The Strip" was Columbia Avenue, now Cecil B. Moore Avenue, between 12th and 19th streets. The stretch was home to independent businesses, but it was most notable for the dozen or so small clubs that dotted it.

Gillespie had his twisted trumpet; it was his trademark, and it happened by accident. Gillespie wrote in his autobiography, "To Be or Not to Bop," that backup dancers Stump n' Stumpy were "fooling around on the bandstand," when one of them pushed the other into his trumpet.

In the 1940s, Gillespie, with Charlie Parker, became a major figure in the development of bebop and modern jazz.

He taught and influenced many other musicians, including trumpeters Miles Davis, Jon Faddis, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, Arturo Sandoval, Lee Morgan, Chuck Mangione, balladeer Johnny Hartman, and one of Gillespie's final pupils before his death, Robert Stewart (saxophonist).   

AllMusic's Scott Yanow wrote: "Dizzy Gillespie's contributions to jazz were huge. One of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time, Gillespie was such a complex player that his contemporaries ended up being similar to those of Miles Davis and Fats Navarro instead, and it was not until Jon Faddis's emergence in the 1970s that Dizzy's style was successfully recreated [....] Arguably Gillespie is remembered, by both critics and fans alike, as one of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time".

A longtime resident of Englewood, New Jersey, Gillespie died of pancreatic cancer on January 6, 1993, aged 75, and was buried in the Flushing Cemetery, Queens, New York City. Mike Longo delivered a eulogy at his funeral. He was also with Gillespie on the night he died, along with Jon Faddis.      

There is a video he did with Louis Armstrong of Umbrella Man by James Cavanaugh, Larry Stock and Vincent Rose. It is fantastic! In it he and Armstrong demonstrate scat at its finest and Armstrong gives Gillespie a run for his money. It 's a bunch of fun to watch (link below)!       

There are WAY too many songs, albums, etc. by Gillespie to mention, so, there is a link to various songs by him on YouTube below.        

Viewfinder link:           
Dizzy Gillespie articles/mentions            
Net links:    
Encyclopædia Britannica ~ Dizzy Gillespie bio     
Smithsonian ~ Dizzy Gillespie and His Bent Trumpet     
New York Times obit       
NPR ~ Dizzy Gillespie On Piano Jazz       
Time/Life ~ 
LIFE With Dizzy Gillespie: Rare and Classic Portraits of a Playful Genius   
YouTube links:    
Dizzy Gillespie links         
Umbrella Man        
"Men have died for this music. 
You can’t get more serious than that."
                          ~ Dizzy Gillespie 
Styrous® ~ Saturday, October 21, 2017