The great jazz trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie, was one of the musicians at the forefront of the development of be-bop music in the Fifties. He was born John Birkes Gillespie in
in 1917. Gillespie earned the moniker, “Dizzy,” for his ebullient personality
and antics while performing. Cheraw, South Carolina
After hearing the great Roy Eldridge on the radio as a child, Gillespie decide then and there that he, too, wanted to be a jazz trumpeter. Gillespie got his start in
In 1943, Gillespie would join Earl Hines band which featured Charlie Parker and was beginning to create a new music which would become bebop. From there, it was on to the Billie Ekstine band, which also featured Parker. He would later leave the Ekstine band because he wanted to play in a smaller ensemble.
In the mid-Forties, Gillespie, Parker and other jazz musicians such as Max Roach, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, and Kenny Clark would meet at clubs such as Minton’s Playhouse and
’s Uptown to jam and experiment. It was
at these jams that bebop was born. Monroe
Gillespie would become a member of the “Quintet,” the legendary be-bop supergroup formed in
in 1953, with Parker, Powell, Charles
Mingus and Max Roach. Following his one-show tenure with the Quintet, Gillespie
would form his own Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra. Toronto
Among the best of the classic sides that Gillespie recorded in the Forties and Fifties are: “A Night in
Tunisia,” “Salt Peanuts,” “Hot House,” “ ,” “Perdido,” and
“Night and Day.” Manteca
Gillespie’s best albums begin with the Quintet. His “Salt Peanuts” from the album “Live at Massey Hall” is perhaps the best moment of many brilliant moments on that live recording of the Quintet’s only show. Other fine Gillespie albums include, “Dizzy In Paris” (1953), “For Musicians Only” (1958), ”Gillespiana” (1960), “Groovin’ High” (1953).
After Gillespie had had his fill of bebop, he became interested in Afro-Cuban music. Gillespie died in 1993.