(1917-1993)'/> (1917-1993)' /> (1917-1993)' /> Biography of John 'Dizzy' Gillespie <small>(1917-1993)</small> - TheBiography.us

Biography of John 'Dizzy' Gillespie (1917-1993)

American musician born Cheraw, South Carolina, on October 21, 1917 and died in New Jersey on January 6, 1993, when he/she was 75 years old. Trumpeter, singer and conductor, is regarded as the great Ambassador of jazz music all over the world; He/She was the creator, along with Charlie Parker'sbebop, style that mana current jazz. The nickname "Dizzy" which referred to was given him by his Joker character when it acted on stage in Philadelphia.

He began his career in the world of music playing the trombone, but soon moved to the trumpet, instrument whose operation studied at the Laurinburg Institute to 1933. Already in 1935, he/she entered in the Frank Fairfax band and, later, of Teddy Hill, with whom he/she toured Europe. Tells the anecdote that Hill met Dizzy down the street and asked him if he/she knew any trumpeter. Gillespie, with 20 years, replied that he/she had before.

The young Dizzy continued his artistic progression and formed part of the Cab Calloway - next to Hilton Jefferson and Chu Berry , Cozy Cole - between 1939 and 1941. Precisely, tells an anecdote about Calloway; It seems that in one performance, Cab chastised Gillespie for one of his typical jokes, to which he/she replied giving a camouflaged. Later he/she collaborated with one of the most charismatic singers in the history of jazz: Ella Fitzgerald, not to mention other figures such as Benny Carter, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Barnet, Fess Williams, Boyd Raeburn, Fletcher Herderson, Calvin Jackson, Claude Hopkins, Lucky Milinder and Les Hite. In 1942 he/she worked in Earl HinesOrchestra, and also agreed at that time with three personalities that marked his musical biography: the aforementioned Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan and Billy Eckstine, who, also formed a big band, at the time who wrote arrangements for Jimmy Dorsey, or sporadically participated in the Duke EllingtonOrchestra.

Later, the genius of Dizzy joined Oscar Pettiford at the Onyx Club Orchestra, and played with Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Ray Brown, Max Roach , and Milt Jackson at the Three Deuces, both local located in the famous 52nd Street. This occurred in the year 1945, the same that made certain historical recordings alongside his friend Charlie Parker that is supposed emerged the bebop movement. A standard "Quintet" of Dizzy Gillespie in 1945 could be: Gillespie (trumpet), Charlie Parker (SAX), Haig (piano), Curley Russell (bass) and Sid Cattlett (drums), although also used to act in "Sextet" (including, for example, a Cozy Cole in training). In 1946 he/she formed his first great Orchestra, along with arranger Walter Gil Fuller; passed through it musicians of the stature of John Lewis, Thelonious Monk, Milt Jackson, Lee Morgan, Ray Brown, Ray Orr, Wynton Kelly, Moore, James Moody, John Lynch, Alice Roberts, Jope Harris, Willie Cook, Leo Parker, Talib Dawud, Cecil Payne, Warren Luckey, Teddy Steward, Paul West, Scoops Carey, Art Davis, Gordon Thomas, Ray Clark, Terry Abrams, Budd Johnson, Leon Comegeys, Sonny StittBobby Hackett, Bill Frazier, Joe Harris, Paul Gonsalvez, or the great John Coltrane. The orchestra played parts of the own Gillespie ("Grovin low, ' Blue'n Boogie" or "Dizzy Atmosphere") or of Tadd Dameron ("Hot House", "Our Delight"), among others. Arrangements were in charge of Dameron, John Lewis, John Brown, Gil Fuller, Chico O'Farrill and the own Gillespie.

In 1948, the famous Orchestra of Gillespie beyond the borders of the United States to spread the "new" jazz (very mixed with Afro-Cuban music) world-wide (Sweden, Belgium or France,) among others. Precisely, in France they had the opportunity to act on the major room Pleyel, action which have been sound testimonies. Either way, Gillespie can't take too much with the Orchestra, since it generated too many expenses. Thus, in 1950, he/she left for directing and became part of the spectacle of Stan Kenton, an American director - one of the creators of the 'modern' concept of Orchestra-fashionable then, he/she included in his show to the "Quintet" Gillespie alongside musicians such as Coltrane, Percy Heath, Stuff Smith, and Bill Graham.

For 1952, Dizzy Gillespie founded (as did other jazz musicians as Charlie Mingus) a short-lived record company - Dee - Gee, he/she played in Europe and went on to teach at the Lenox School of Jazz in Massachusetts. At this time it belonged to the "Jazz At The Philharmonic". Somewhat later, in 1956, the State Department of its country granted the opportunity to spread jazz music by countries and exotic territories, such as Yugoslavia, Greece, Middle East or South America. For this journey, Gillespie cast hand of the Orchestra, as jazz training, aided by the arranger Norman Granz. The musical director of the big band was, no more and no less than Quincy Jones; among the musicians who composed it were Charlie Pership, Phill Woods, Wynton Kelly, Benny Golson, or Paul West, which also coincided with the great composer Lalo Schifrin, who Gillespie collaborated more later.

At the end of the 1950s, Dizzy Gillespie was already an institution in the world of jazz. He/She acted as director of Orchestra, as soloist, in large or small formations; in 1957, in Newport, he/she reaped a success unprecedented in his career. In these years, the trumpeter - pressing and dizzying career - was linked to the many important musicians. These include Count Basie, Roy Eldridge, Duke Ellington, Benny Golson, Junior Mance, Stan Getz, Sonny Stitt, Oscar Petterson, James Moody, Benny Carter and Toots Thielemans, with whom he/she played and recorded many vinyls. In addition to accompany or form part of large and small bands with the previously mentioned, the genius of Dizzy tended to look for its Afro-Cuban roots, which belonged to this style of music formations led by great directors from this period: Mongo Santamaría, Mike Longo, Paulinho Da Costa, José Mangual and Ray Barretto; the latter, without discussion, that possessed the most significant Orchestra, perhaps next to the Santa María. His great passion was join the music of jazz with Afro-Cuban rhythms, which can be seen perfectly when listening to one of his most famous compositions: "Manteca".

In the 1970s, became an Ambassador of jazz all over the world, and was guest of honour at the footballer Fidel Castro. Both in the 1980s and 1990s, Gillespie trumpet has followed can be heard all over the world with an infinity of formations. Remarkable is, for example, the tour that made Europe in 1990 with the "Union Nation Orchestra" - formed by 15 members, including protruding James Moody (SAX/flute), Paquito D'Rivera (SAX), Arturo Sandoval (trumpet), Slide Hampton (trombone), Airto Moreira (percussion), Flora Purim (voice) or Danilo Pérez (piano).

Curious facts from the biography of Gillespie, aside from his jazz musical journey, are, among others, his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States (in 1963 and 1972); the publication of his autobiography (in collaboration with the Fraser), whose curious title was To Be Or Not To Bop in 1979; or participation in the musical band of Shirley Clarke The Cool World film, in 1963, soundtrack composed by Mal Waldron. At the same time, we cannot fail to refer to its intervention in numerous video and film - musical or not - from the 1940s until the 1990s: Jivin' In Bebop (by Leonard Anderson, 1947); or Stage Entrance (next to Charlie Parker, in 1951); Timex All Star Show (along with Louis Armstrong, in 1959); Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, in 1965; or as supporting actor, in 1990, in the film winter in Lisbon, inspired by the eponymous novel of A. Muñoz Molina. Unfortunately, his trump stopped sounding a Wednesday, January 6, 1993, due to his death because of a pancreatic cancer who suffered from three years. As a curiosity can say that he/she died almost asleep, while I was listening to a tune of his own: "Dizzy's dime", along with his wife, Lorraine, with whom he/she had married in 1940.

The figure of Dizzy Gillespie is one of the creators of contemporary jazz. Maybe together with Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis. His way of playing the trumpet (bent 45 ° upwards, reported to have because it sat in a performance about it), his face deformed by blowing (with hinchadisimos cheeks) and his attitude on stage (smiling, prankster) until the satiety and hooligan have shaped a unique figure in the history of 20th-century jazz. In addition, you have to be aware that Gillespie was one of the creators of the bebop - along with the also charismatic Charlie Parker - cradle and root of the evolved jazz as we know it today. Indeed, the denomination bebop emerged, reported to have in an attempt to decipher impossible notes written by own trumpeter.

Dizzy Gillespie was able to innovate jazz and create it. Then moved ever in a highly variable musical line trying to merge, as he/she has been said, classic jazz with Afro-Cuban rhythms, without forgetting your favorite training: the big band. The sound of his trumpet, agile, melodious and supersonic often, back him up as one of the stellar trumpeters and a legend in this genre developed during the 20th century. Since its inception as a trumpeter, Gillespie was able to earn a place among the greats. First beside Roy Eldrige, then along with Cab Calloway, Earl Hines and Billie Eckstine; and finally side by side next to the real revolutionaries of jazz music: Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker. Even to an unborn Miles Davis - when he/she was eighteen-year - old left amazed playing his trumpet. His technique has proved inimitable. His acute notes make it possessor of a unique sound that release through vibrant arabesques and tremolos executed flawlessly. In short, it's bebop, more complex music which has been developed throughout the history of jazz. But his fame grew not only as a marvelous performer, the originality of its "combos", as well as the strength of their big bands, also presented as an original director of Orchestra, always supported by Latin rhythms.

His major contribution to the history of jazz - if any we have to stay within its vast production - was Grovin' High, published in 1955 (then reissued in 1986 and 1992) vinyl and containing recordings from the years 1945 and 1946, precisely when the bebop style was forged. Disc truly innovative and full of new sounds. A work of art of jazz music and one of his great albums. Meanwhile, his masterpieces - aside from his compositions "Grovin low or"Dizzy Atmosphere"- are those that mixed jazz with Afro-Cuban music; that is, "butter" and the unforgettable "Night in Tunisia".


HORRICKS, Raymond: Dizzy Gillespie, Madrid: Júcar, 1987.

FRASER, Al - GILLESPIE, Dizzy: To Be Or Not To Bop, Doubleday, 1979.



The Dizzy Gillespie-Stan Getz Sextet, Norgran (Stan Getz, 1954). Hot vs. Cool, MGM (Jimmy Parland, 1955). DIZ and Getz, Norgran (S. Getz, 1956). Jazz from Paris, Clef (Django Reinhardt, 1956). The Beginning: Diz and Bird, Roost (Charlie Parker, 1960). DIZ'n ' Bird in Concert, Roost (ch. Parker, 1959). Dizzy Gillespie Meets the Phil Woods Quintet, Timeless (Phil Woods, 1990).


Dizzy Gillespie Plays, Johnny Richards Conducts, Discovery, 1950. Dizzy Gillespie, Atlantic, 1952. Modern Trumpets, Dial, 1952. Horn of Plenty, Blue Note, 1953. Dizzy Gillespie with Strings, Clef, 1953. Dizzy in Paris, Contemporary, 1953. Dizzy Over Paris, Roost, 1953. Dizzy Gillespie with His Original Big Band, Gene Norman, 195? Afro Dizzy, Norgran, 1954. Dizzier and Dizzier, RCA Victor, 1954. Creations/Dizzy Gillespie, American Jazz Recording Society, 1955. Big Band Jazz, American Recording Society, 1955. Dizzy and Strings, Norgran, 1955. Groovin' High, Savoy, 1955. Jazz Recital, Norgran, 1956. World Statesman, Norgran, 1956. DIZ Big Band, Norgran, 1956. The Champ, Savoy, 1956. The Dizzy Gillespie Story, Savoy, 1957. Dizzy at Home and Abroad, Atlantic, 1957. Dizzy Gillespie and his Big Band, Gene Horman, 1957. School Days, Regent, 1957. Concert in Paris, Roost, 1957. World Statesman, Verve, 1957 Jazz Recital, Verve, 1957. Butter, Verve, 1958. Duets, Verve, 1958. Dizzy Gillespie at Newport, Verve, 1958. Dizzy Gillespie and Stuff Smith, Verve, 1958. Have Trumpet, Will Excite, Verve, 1959. The Greatest Trumpet of Them All, Verve, 1959. The Ebullient Mr. Gillespie, Verve, 1960. Dizzy in Greece, Verve, 1960. Gillespiana, Verve, 1960. Portrait of Duke, Verve, 1960. The Greatest of Dizzy Gillespie, RCA Victor, 1961. A Handful of Modern Jazz, Baronet, 1961. An Electrifying Evening with the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, Verve, 1961. Perceptions, Verve, 1961. Dizzy, Rollins & Stitt, Verve, 1962. Carnegie Hall Concert, Verve, 1962. Dizzy at the French Rivera, Philips, 1962. The New Wave!, Philips, 1963. Something Old, Something New, Philips, 1963. Dizzy Gillespie and the Double Six of Paris, Philips, 1963. Dateline: Europe, Reprise, 1963. Jambo Caribbean, Limelight, 1964. Dizzy Gillespie Goes Hollywood, Philips, 1964. The Essencial Dizzy Gillespie, Verve, 1964. The New Continent, Limelight, 1965. Dizzy Gillespie, RCA Victor, 1966. Night in Tunisia, Verve, 1966. The Melody Lingers On, Limelight, 1967. Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac!, Impulse!, 1967. Live at the Village Vanguard, Solid State, 1968. My Way, Solid State, 1969. Cornucopia, Solid State, 1969. The Newport Years, Verve, 197? In the Beginning, Prestige, 197? Diz and Roy, Verve, 197? Dee Gee Days, Savoy Jazz, 197? The Giant, Prestige, 197? Composer's Concepts, Emarcy, 197? The Small Groups, Phoenix, 197? The Big Bands, Phoenix, 197? Souled Out, GWP, 197? Dizzy!, GNP Crescendo, 197? The Real Thing, Perception, 197? Dizzy Gillespie, Archive of Folk and Jazz, 1970. Dizzy Gillespie at Salle Plevel' 48, Prestige, 1970. Portait of Jenny, Perception, 1971. Dizzy Gillespie with the Antonio-Ruff Duo, Mainstream, 1972. Dizzy's Big Four, Paul, 1975. Bahian, Paul, 1976. Dizzy's Big Seven: Montreux' 75, Paul, 1976. Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods, Paul, 1976. Party, Paul, 1977. Free Ride, Paul, 1977. Dizzy Gillespie Jam: Montreux'77, Paul Live, 1977. The Reunion Big Band, Verve, 198? The King of Bop, Archive of Folk and Jazz, 198? An Electrifying Evening with the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, Verve, 198? In Helsinki: To a Finland Station, Pablo, 198? The Alternate Blues, Paul, 198? Body & Soul Featuring Sarah Vaughan, Intermedia, 198? Sweet Soul, Gateway, 198? New Faces, GRP, 198? The Giant, Jazz Man, 198? The Source, Jazz Man, 198? Dizzy digital at Montreux 1980, Pablo Live, 1980 Summertime, Pablo Live, 1980. One Night in Washington, Elektra/Musician, 1984. Closer to the Source, Atlantic, 1986. One Bass Hit, Musicraft, 1986. Dizziest, Bluebird, 1987. Dizzy Gillespie Jam: Montreux' 77, Fantasy, 1989. Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods, Fantasy, 1990. Angel City, Moon, 1992.

Ricardo P. Virtanen